Be Sustainable

What is sustainability?

The U. S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 declared as its goal a national policy to “create and maintain conditions under which [humans] and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.”

Sustainability is a new way of thinking about an age-old concern: ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a tomorrow that is at least as good as today, preferably better. We want to make sure that the way we live our lives is sustainable – that it can continue and keep improving for a long, long time.

Why sustainability?

Economic prosperity, environmental progress and community concerns are all aspects of sustainability. Global climate change and land development are significant environmental issues that demonstrate that need to think sustainability.

Tips for sustainable planting

  • Minimize bare soil and stabilize slopes by planting ground-cover.
  • Mulch for water retention, weed prevention, and to add to the soils nutrients.
  • Use deciduous trees on the south to create shade. Plant evergreens on the north to stop winter winds.
  • Install a rain sensor on automatic irrigation systems, and reconfigure your system annually. Too little or too much water both harm plants.
  • Use native plants. Buy plants from local nurseries to ensure proper growth habit and native species. We are a zone 8.
  • Use newspaper as an organic weed barrier under mulch or pine-straw.
  • Most drip irrigation should only be temporary. Once your plants are established, they do not need irrigation.
  • Mulch organic kitchen waste directly to base of plants
  • Baking soda helps with black spot or powdery mildew
  • Use horticultural oil for scale and mites
  • Remove disease prone plants to prevent spreading. When pruning diseased areas, clean pruners with witch hazel to prevent spread.
  • Use compost on lawn areas to fertilize instead of using synthetics fertilizers. This is best done in the spring.
  • Do not use synthetic fertilizers on blooming perennials. They become addicted. Use compost, manure, or fish oil instead.
  • In low areas, use water loving plants to absorb standing water and stabilize stream banks
  • Companion planting, or intercropping, allows you to take advantage of chemical interactions between plants (example : marigolds prevent pest infestations)
  • Instead of throwing plastic pots away, recycle them with your county's recycling service (if allowed - Charleston County recycles ALL plastics) or take them with you the next time you go to your local nursery.

“When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.” 
– John Muir

Sustainable management practices are crucial for ensuring that natural resources such as water, air, and soil are protected for present and future generations and that economic, social, industrial, and recreational interests are appropriately balanced.

More information about DHEC’s Environmental Excellence Program

Information may be obtained by contacting Christine Steagall, SCEEP Program Coordinator, DHEC’s Center for Waste Minimization, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29201, 803-896-8986. Email: or by visiting