Tuesday, March 17, 2015

6 Tips to Go Green on St Patrick's Day

I'm of Irish heritage so when St. Patrick's Day comes around it's fun to sport something green and eat corned beef and cabbage. I never eat corned beef any more (never really cared much for it). Frankly, growing up in my Irish household (including schooling by Irish nuns), we learned it was only necessary to wear green to avoid getting pinched if you were NOT Irish. Anybody else get this message?

Over the years St. Patrick's Day seems to have morphed into a day to eat green food, drink green beverages (especially the adult variety), and wear big green hats with the green-colored clothes. Everybody, whether Irish or not, participated. I don't drink, but I have gone to a local bar with my hubby to take in all the festive activities on St. Paddy's Day. On that day the whole world is Irish.

I'd like to add another way to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Go Green!

Here are 6 tips to Go Green starting this St. Patrick's Day:

#1 Reuse
Today recycling is easy. When I first started recycling, over 35 years ago, I remember having to drive some distance to the recycling center. This was before you got paid for some recyclable material. Now an important part of recycling is to reuse the item.

I reuse the nice glass container the Kombucha comes in from the store to bottle my own Kombucha when I make it. I also use the bottles for filtered water at my bedside and in my car.

Several food items I buy come in Ball or Kerr jars with canning lids. I save those to use as small flower vases or to make fermented veggies. If you're a canner, you can save those jars (and money) when you process those peaches, tomatoes or whatever you like to preserve.

#2 Repurpose
Think outside the box and repurpose an item for some other use. Like using milk and egg cartons to start seedlings for the garden inside out of the cold.  And don't forget to reuse the six-packs you got your starter plants in for seedlings the next year.

Before you throw anything away, ask yourself what you might do with it. When our patio table top got old and fell apart, we threw the top away and repurposed the metal structure into a flower stand by adding a trough and some shelves. Check out how this DIY structured flower garden came together.

#3 Save Water
I live in California where we have severe drought conditions at his point. A recent article in the LA Times stated that we have only one year of water left unless we get some serious rain and snow. Yikes!

We are on water restrictions in Northern California. To help out, while we wait to get hot water from a faucet, we fill a 5-gallon container, which we use to water plants outside. We water in the early morning so the water can be absorbed by the plant rather than evaporate in the mid-day heat. Inside, we only run water when needed.

#4 Plant a Garden
I bought my first summer garden plants for this season. Two tomatoes. I know it might be too early where you live. Some are still getting lots of snow. Boston broke an all time record for snow on Sunday with 108.6 inches for the season. You can always start your garden inside until the last frost passes.

Hey... Boston Strong! Send some of that snow out to California will ya?

I know from my gardening experience lately, tomatoes need heat and since we've had cooler summers (which means a shorter growing season for the tomatoes), getting an early start is important to get the best yields.

#5 Unload
We started reading and watching videos to learn about tiny homes—houses that are 600 - 800 square feet. The process made us reevaluate the stuff we had acquired. If you want to live in 750 square feet, you must eliminate all unnecessary possessions. Many people pay to store their excess stuff and may never question if they need it much less why they hang on to it.

When economic conditions caused a major shift in our lives and we went from homeowner to renter, we began to reconsider the importance of things in our life. I've been selling stuff that we find excessive since the move. It's been an interesting and fun exercise plus adds a few extra bucks to our budget.

#6 Dream Green
My husband and I have always wanted to have a house that was off the grid. He recently read the book Off the Grid by Nick Rosen. It recounts several families' stories across America who cut themselves off from public utilities and power their innovative homes with alternatives means.

Many years ago I planned on building an underground home, built into the side of a hill with a berm roof and lots of south-facing windows. Today we drive an 8-year-old hybrid car with license plate GRN ALT. We monitor our electricity usage so carefully, I call my husband the Energy Natzi.

We don't have our green home off the grid, but our dreams have positively shaped our thinking and enhanced our lives by redefining what is important.

Do you have a Go Green tip to add to the list?


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