Landfill Resued SeedsAs the months soldier on, stores across the nation greet us with the all too familiar sights, sounds and colors of the varying seasons. Clusters of cornstalks and generous displays of pumpkins and gourds mean that autumn is upon us, just as holly berries, pinecones and evergreens typically usher in the bustling, often frenetic holidays. No matter the calendar month or exact position of the sun, mass merchandisers are somehow always primed with incessant visual reminders that it’s time for us to buy something new. What’s the first thing that meets our gaze during the spring months? Flower bulbs and seeds. Of course, we want to shake off winter memories by visually transforming the landscape around our homes with a punch of color. Thanks to today’s Johnny-on-the-spot cardboard seed and bulb stands strategically positioned right next to the entrance of every retailer, indulging our green thumbs is always a cinch. The problem with this “always ready” attitude is that retailers end up clearing out the old stock in order to make way for the shiny new things, even when that which is perceived as “old” hasn’t even had the opportunity to celebrate its first birthday. In terms of how this practice affects seasonal items like decorations, they’re slowly but surely discounted and then either purged (sold to an odd lot retailer) or discarded. Surprisingly, plant-bearing stock like flower bulbs and seeds that aren’t sold in the time allotted by big-box stores are also subject to the chopping block, especially when deal-seeking bargain hunters are not motivated by rock-bottom, end-of-season prices. Despite having the ability to enhance our surroundings and provide food, a staggering volume of flower bulbs and seeds end up meeting their untimely demise in our nation’s landfills. That’s where the America The Beautiful Fund has come to the rescue. The 46-year-old nonprofit foundation, which continues to enhance our country’s natural beauty and historic legacy through grants and donations, has to date successfully diverted a whopping 7 million flower bulbs and 800 tons of seeds from landfills around the nation. All told, the plant material is valued at $100+ million and counting. Through its Operation Green Plant initiative, the program continues to not only keep viable flower and food seeds out of our waste stream, but also earmarks surplus vegetable seeds for community gardening projects, schools, charities and food banks that:
  • Want to make the world a greener, garden-filled place;
  • aid those who are food-insecure;
  • promote a better attitude toward diet and health;
  • enhance urban concrete jungles with living beauty; and
  • cultivate eco-stewardship
In order to qualify for America The Beautiful Fund’s incredibly generous grants of 100 to 6,000 seed packets — which they openly state are from the previous year’s stock (meaning that their germination rates are still a respectable 92% to 95%) — they request that applicants fill out an online form, attach a brief letter explaining why the organization wants seeds, and send it all in with a check covering the cost of shipping and handling. Considering the fact that many standard seed packets can cost roughly $1.50 each (oftentimes even more), the minor $14.95 shipping fee for 100 packets seems incredibly reasonable — that’s a mere 15¢ for each envelope filled with approximately 15 seeds, or roughly 1¢ per seed! Seeds and bulbs for a song? Operation Green Plant enables your school or other do-good organization to literally whistle while working the land, knowing that you’re doing right by Mother Nature, your community and most certainly your budget!