Prove your humanity

by Megan Frank of LehighValleyNews.com

A lot of people like to garden this time of year, but some Pennsylvanians are considering planting their underwear.

No, it’s not to grow more of it.  It’s part of a new statewide campaign to test soil health.

The Soil Your Undies challenge is being led by a handful of environmental groups across the commonwealth.  They’re asking people to bury a pair of 100% cotton underwear and in 60 days dig it back up.

Lamonte Garber, watershed restoration coordinator with Stroud Water Research Center, helped organize the campaign. He says if the drawers deteriorate, that’s a sign that the soil is full of healthy microbes.

“And it’s not just bacteria, it’s fungus, worms, invertebrates. Healthy soil is actually pulsing with life,” explained Garber.

Garber says cotton is made of cellulose, a natural sugar, which is food for microorganisms.

“The healthier our soils are the cleaner our water is going to be, the healthier our food is going to be and the cleaner our air is going to be,” said Garber.

He says if underwear doesn’t decompose, there’s an issue.

“If someone wants to know why – I buried my underwear and nothing happened – it could be any number of factors.  Like some kind of a chemical spill or overuse of pesticides,” said Garber.

Garber says soil can be rehabilitated by adding organic matter and reducing pesticide use.

He says participants are encouraged to officially sign up for the challenge and document the experiment.  He says people may also share their findings on social media using the hashtag “Soil Your Undies.”