Feed #107 – Water filters made from moss & your compost questions answered!

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Take a swig – this water filter is made from moss!

We've got some good news and bad news. It turns out that you might be consuming the equivalent of 16 credit-cards' worth of microplastics through your drinking water every two months. But this new bio-water filter can help you make sure you're not!

Design students in Colombia have harnessed the porousness of moss to design a water filter which traps microplastics. Over the two-month product life of the filter, it can trap 80 grams of microplastics, sparing you from consuming the equivalent of 16 credit cards.

The design comes from the ecosystem high in the Andes Mountains called the Paramo. Hiking in this region is done either on rock, or what feels like pillows. The biosphere is covered in layers of moss species which absorb, filter and send water back down to mountain streams that are safely drunk by around 40 million people across northern South America.

The prototype isn't available yet, but the good news is that there are plenty of other filters available which also filter out microplastics from your water. It could be many years before the filter (MustGo) is ever available, but it's more proof that the keys to many of our biggest challenges already exist in nature—all we have to do is harness them.

Over 1,000 acres in New York's Tully Valley returned to Onondaga Nation stewardship

In a rare moment for East Coast Native Americans, 1,023 acres of ancestral land in New York state has been returned to the Onondaga Nation!

The land in the Tully Valley includes the headwaters of Onondaga Creek, more than 45 acres of wetland and floodplains, and 980 acres of forests and fields. Recent world-wide studies have found that 80% of the world's biodiversity currently exists in areas stewarded by indigenous peoples – despite the fact those areas only add up to less than half of the planet's landmass.

Despite the fact that it's becoming more common to see tribal nations recovering their ancestral lands, for tribes in the super-developed Mid-Atlantic region, these opportunities are rare. The Onondaga Nation is thrilled with the opportunity to show what their stewardship will offer to the many species already present on the land – and so are we!

This week on Dr. Compost

Did you catch this week’s composting Q&A with our in-house scientist, Peter Howard? Every week, composters from Australia, America and the UK jump online to send in their questions so Dr. Compost can answe them! Here's some we picked out from a recent live:

Q. Can you compost fruit fly larvae?

A. You can! If you see larvae or suspect fruit flies might have laid eggs in your scraps, just bury them right down at the bottom of your Subpod under a decent amount of compost, and that will starve the larvae of oxygen.

Q. Can worms remove parasites/chemicals from soil and plants?

A. Kind of. Worms are like little farmers, and they farm microbes. By breaking down waste, they create the right environment for microbes to thrive and further the composting process – and microbes are excellent at breaking down chemicals.

As for parasites, if you make a liquid fertilizer from your compost and spray it on your plants’ leaves, the microbes in the fertilizer will act as a barrier to pests and disease, helping to keep your plants healthier.

Q. Is it okay to use bleached/dyed paper and cardboard in my Subpod?

A. It’s best to avoid using glossy papers or cardboards in your Subpod, or anything that’s been heavily chemically treated. That said, a little shredded office paper with black ink on it won’t hurt your worms – and plain white paper is okay too. It’s better to buy unbleached paper if you can, though!

Those are just a few of the questions Dr. Compost helped answer in his 45-minute live. If you'd like to tune in next week, make sure to join in on Grow Hub!

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