SustainAbility Newsletter

Fall Yard Cleanup

Fall CleanupCleaning up garden and flower beds in the fall is an effective way to control various insect pests. Many insects survive the winter buried in the soil (5-25 cm) or on its surface. Debris left on the soil surface will in fact help the insects to survive.

In winter, the temperature of the soil is higher than the air temperature. Various components in the soil buffer it against severe freezing temperatures. For this reason. insects are able to survive in the soil, protected from the winter cold. Debris left on the soil surface further protects the soil, thus making it more hospitable for overwintering insects and increasing their chances of survival. If you remove the debris, the soil will freeze to a greater depth and more insects will likely die during the winter.

When and How to Remove the Debris
The best time to remove the debris is in early October, after the insects have buried themselves in for the winter. You can remove the debris earlier or later, still with effective results in terms of controlling insects. When removing the debris, it is wise to till the garden and flower beds. Tilling will bring the insects up the soil surface, where they are more susceptible to killing temperatures.

Drenching the soil in the fall with an insecticide to control insect pests is not recommended. In order for an insecticide to be effective, the insect must be active. Insect larvae, pupae and adults overwintering in the soil are not active, and therefore pesticide control at this time of year is ineffective.

Garden Cleanup
Insects that overwinter on the soil surface under garden debris or buried in the soil include the beet leaf miner, cabbage maggot, Colorado potato beetle, flea beetle, imported cabbage worm, onion maggot and spinach carrion beetle. Incorporating organic matter in the fall is recommended, but it should be well tilled into the soil; if left on the soil surface, the organic matter will help protect insects over the winter.

Flower Beds and Shrubbery
In flower beds and shrubbery, a number of insects overwinter successfully under debris or in the soil near the base of ornamentals. Such insects include the currant fruit fly, imported currant worm, pear slugs, rose curculio and spring cankerworm. Removal of the leaf litter and a shallow tillage under ornamentals will help control many of these insects.

Fast Facts

  • The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a traditional light bulb for four hours.
  • Recycled paper requires 64% less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp, and can save many trees.



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon International

The International Sustainability Council

Pioneer Thinking

EarthCraft Homes

The Natural Step

Animal Aid

Recipes For Sustainability


SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Cookie Conservation - Girl Scouts pledge to limit Palm-oil use in Cookies

Girl ScoutsA five-year campaign by two Michigan girls to make Girl Scout cookies more environmentally friendly has prompted the youth organization to curb the use of palm oil in its iconic baked goods.

Girl Scouts of the USA isn't eliminating the ingredient, but it says that beginning with the 2012-13 cookie season, each box will include a GreenPalm logo as a symbol of Girl Scouts' commitment to address concerns about the deforestation of sensitive lands caused by production of palm oil.

Environmentalists say the illegal clearing of rainforests in Southeast Asia to make room for palm oil plantations has pushed the orangutan to the brink of extinction and threatens other native animals.

In its announcement, the Girl Scouts said it has directed its bakers to use as little palm oil as possible, and only in recipes where there is no alternative. It wants its bakers to move to a segregated, certified sustainable palm oil source by 2015.

The Scouts will buy GreenPalm certificates to support the sustainable production of palm oil. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within best-practices guidelines set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, an organization of palm oil producers, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, environmentalists and others.

Girl Scouts of the USA will also become an affiliate member of the roundtable.

The teen activists and environmentalists welcomed the announcement as a good first step, but said much more needs to be done.

"The production of palm oil is causing some of the world's most precious rainforests to disappear faster than a box of Thin Mints," said Lindsey Allen, forest campaign director for the Rainforest Action Network.

Girl Scouts sells more than 200 million boxes of cookies per year. It estimates that its cookies account for less than one-one-hundredth of 1 percent of all the palm oil used globally.

"Girl Scouts' palm oil use is very small, but our voice is big," Amanda Hamaker, Girl Scouts manager of product sales, said in a press release. "The world's food supply is intricately tied to the use of palm oil, so we believe promoting sustainable manufacturing principles is the most responsible approach for Girl Scouts."

In a follow-up email Thursday to, Hamaker called the girls’ campaign "extremely significant."

"This is the first time on record that GSUSA has changed our practices related to the activities of the youth we serve," Hamaker said. "The girls identified an area where GSUSA clearly needed to provide leadership, and we are delighted to have found a way to do so."



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 


Ford Motors

Girl Scouts of America

Austin Ranch

Turf Feeding Systems

The University of Michigan

The Dodson Group      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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