the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaches on April 22, 2010, many people are thinking globally by acting locally to do what they can as an individual to better care for the planet we live on. We tend to take for granted those things we've got that we've always had. Our earth is no different, but hopefully we're becoming more environmentally aware and are doing something to help preserve our natural resources.
Jan of Thanks For Today has been hosting the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project for the last couple of months. Bloggers all over the world are contributing their thoughts on the subject of sustainable living with the hopes of creating awareness and providing suggestions for ways we can all do our part. Please visit her blog, where you can find links to the participating bloggers. And now, my thoughts...
I'm asked all the time how I feel about global warming and if I recycle and if I garden organically and if I save rainwater or compost. These are issues I never even thought much about until the last few years, as I got serious about my gardening.
Gardening will do that to you. You start out thinking you'll grow some flowers or some vegetables and that will be that. Then the butterflies show up. And the birds. And the insects, oh, the insects.
Many times I simply use the garden hose and spray bugs off with water. If you do that often enough, the bugs seems to get the message that you don't want them there. And sometimes I just pick them off by hand, like those icky bagworms you see in the photo here.
As the first summer of my gardening wore on and the garden began to produce as much waste as it did flowers and veggies, it seemed silly not to make use of the deadheaded flowers and the vegetable plants and vines that no longer bore fruit.
I first learned about composting from my Swiss pen pal when Romie and I visited them in Switzerland in 1987. They explained the pile at the back of their house and how they used it to enrich the garden soil. It made total sense to me, and though I didn't begin gardening until many years later, in 2005, I remembered that compost pile. So we started one of our own and Romie later built bins.
A couple of summers ago, I grew Pelargoniums in clay pots on our front porch. I had a problem with the leaves yellowing. We had visitors from California and Mimi asked me if we had sulfur water. She told me Pelargoniums don't like that. She would know, because she works as a breeder for a company that grows them.
Rain, running into our rain barrel
Inside the house, I recycle water, too. During the winter, there are about 50 plants overwintering on shelves with lights. They're on a light watering schedule since it's so much cooler down there and my goal is to just keep them alive and semi-dormant. We run a dehumidifier down there and I use the collected water from it to water the plants. It always is just the right amount.
Classic recycling practices have always been a part of our married life. The recycling movement in the United States began when I was in junior high and high school. It was then that collecting pop cans and returning glass pop bottles to the store for two cents a bottle became a way of life. Then came cardboard, plastic and newspapers. I almost can't remember when we didn't recycle these things.
Emissions controls were put into use in cars about the time I started driving. More attention was paid to gas mileage than ever before because of so-called gas shortages. I can remember sitting in many a gas line in the mid-70s.
I also learned not to make "jack-rabbit starts" when starting up again from a traffic light and to this day I look ahead to the light as I approach it to see if it has turned yellow so I can take my foot off the accelerator and coast to a stop. Old habits die hard, but that's one that is a good habit to have and I'll do it as long as I drive.
We live out in the country, so we can't take public transportation to work or even ride our bicycles, since our workplaces are too far away. But we try to plan errands around our work schedules so we don't have to make unnecessary trips to town.
Now, about global warming. I'm not sure I should state my opinion of it here. Let's just say that I'll acknowledge that it may be happening, but I'm of the mind that the earth is and will always be in a state of change and that there's probably very little that we can do to stop it.
That being said, I feel there's no excuse to be irresponsible and wasteful either. Whether you are to the left or to the right of the issue of sustainability or somewhere in the middle, and whether or not you think what you can do will make a difference, I urge you to ask yourself if there aren't little things you can do to be less wasteful and more mindful of the space on earth you've been granted the privilege to live upon.
It may seem trite to say, but it's true - every little bit helps.