As we lead up to the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, we will be featuring eco-conscious movements happening right here in Kansas City. Our Sustainability Showcase will outline how local efforts are making a difference in our community’s footprint and how you can get involved.

Here at the Mr.  & Mrs. F.L. Schlagle Library, we strive to lessen our impact in our daily habits while serving our patrons. Below is a list of things we do to keep our building running with the environment in mind.


Any organic waste that comes from our building is put into one of two recycling systems: an outside tumbler or a vermicomposter.

Left: tumbler compost bin outside behind the library Right: vermicompost system in our kitchen

Composting is a decomposition system that relies on a mixture of carbon, nitrogen, air, and moisture to be mixed together to aid in the breakdown. The tumbler needs to be spun 1-2 times per week once it’s full. In the vermicomposter, a colony of red wiggler worms does all the work for you! Red wigglers are very efficient at moving through food scraps and carbon material like straw, cardboard, or newspaper, gobbling up the rotting food, and pooping out nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Worms are working hard to turn used coffee grounds into fertilizer!

All the compost we create is returned to the Earth in our flowerbeds and potted plants and lowers the amount of waste we send to landfills. Our summer camp kids are taught how to compost and help us out with this project too!

Energy Saved

With our beautiful views of the lake and surrounding forest, we like to keep our window blinds open as much as possible. This lets in a lot of natural light, and staff realized that it provided enough illumination we don’t need to have all our lights on at all times. On sunny days, you can find some of our lights turned off on our library floor without being left in the dark.

Half the lights are turned off yet the library is full of light from the sun.

Water Conservation

Every week, all the animals need fresh water added to their aquariums. Instead of dumping last week’s water down the drain, we will take it outside to the flower beds and keep our plants hydrated without needing to pull more fresh water from the tap.

This columbine is getting ready to bloom and could use some water if we have a dry spell.

Repurposing with a Passion

It’s no surprise that plastic lasts a long time. Normally, that’s considered a negative thing, especially when we find plastic litter clogging up our lakeshore and forest, but it can have a positive effect. By finding a new purpose for plastic, you can eliminate the need to buy new plastic items that may serve the same role. For example, I wanted to propagate succulent plants for a program, but I needed something to grow them in. Instead of purchasing new plastic pots, I found a collection of saved yogurt cups in storage, and they have become the new home for the plant babies.

Soon to be going home in take home kits for patrons!

Sometimes, upcycling takes some creativity. When programs involve painting, we need plenty of cups for every participant to have at least one color near them. Luckily, a staff member realized small pet food containers were the perfect size for holding paint. So, after a thorough washing, these small square cups became part of our painting supply closet, and we’ve used them for years.

Some of these are over ten years old!

In a pinch, ice cream tubs make great storage containers! Here’s one from a couple of years ago holding worm castings from the composter!

Half full of black gold (aka worm poop)!

Building Improvements

We recently had all our light bulbs upgraded to LED bulbs, and certain rooms have timers on the lights, so they turn off if no one is around. For all our patrons who bring reusable water bottles, you can refill them at our handy-dandy bottle filling station!

We’ve saved over 1,500 bottles from landfill in just 18 months!

The way your home works to lessen your impact will look different than ours-and that’s ok! The planet needs everyone to do the best they can with the resources they have available. Maybe that means you choose paper bags over plastic ones from the grocery store. Perhaps you use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. There are endless ideas for lowering your footprint on this Earth, and it’s up to you to find out what you can achieve for your home, your health, and the planet.

Happy Earth Week!