By Kathrin Germanous, Christina Gadalla and Bianca Bader
We are doing the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and part of that scheme is community service. For our community service we have been helping Michael Mobbs garden in Chippendale. Today we found out how much privilege we have because we have access to water every day and we learnt that mulch means a lot more to plants than we think.
We started the session by gathering the soil and worms under the hay in the chicken coop which we then mixed with water to make mulch! Then we covered the surroundings of plants with mulch in order to prevent weeds which compete with plants for moisture and nutrients. We also learnt that using organic mulch means there is more organic matter in the soil. We put the mulch around many plants in an ‘L’ shape in order for the plant to be properly covered. After that, we had a small photoshoot as you can see in the video below to show what we actually do not just in words.
Next we had to empty the compost bin and we transported the compost to Michael’s backyard. We learnt that compost can be used again as mulch to be put around trees and shrubs to keep the moisture in and to prevent weeds from growing. The street’s compost bin hadn’t been emptied for only a month but it was already so full, although most of the paraphernalia were old fruits and veggies, there were a few naughty plastic bits inside it!
After we had finished with the compost bin, we got to lay brand new hay for the chickens! They were very happy with our work! Afterward we had to clean Michael’s floor because we had stepped in and out of his house with our muddy shoes way too many times. After we broomed and mopped, Michael challenged our knowledge of world affairs. He asked if we were aware of how many people don’t have access to clean water around the world. He told us to research about it and the results I found were very eye opening. 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water. 37% of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. Half of the world's hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. So how can we, knowing all of this take water for granted? We use water for showering, drinking, washing our hands, cleaning the dishes, watering our plants, cleaning the floor and 783 million people can’t even drink it.
At the end of the session, Michael gave us a ‘who gives a crap’ toilet paper roll each and challenged us to make the switch. This brand of toilet paper donates 50% of their profits to wateraid to build toilets in the developing world. This organisation has provided 120,000 people with sanitation access, saved 22,758 trees by selling forest friendly paper products, saved 54 million litres of water by making their products using eco-friendly materials and reduced 4,377 tons of greenhouse gas emission by making products with cleaner processes.
Overall, every time we come to Michael’s house, we learn something new and it makes us more consciously aware of gardening and of how much privilege we have to live in a country like Australia. We learnt that mulch helps plants to survive, we learnt that compost can be reused for a purpose and we learnt that buying one roll of ‘who gives a crap’ will save lives.