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Posts Tagged ‘recycle’

In honor of spring, the welcoming of the fresh and new and the thought of Spring Cleaning, I want to revisit my initial definition of the term “green.”  In the past few posts I have introduced using the term “eco-conscious” in place of “green.”  I actually like them both, a lot, therefore I plan on using them interchangeably.

Here is a revised and expanded version of my definition based on some of my thoughts and work in the last six months.

*I took away the use of the “does not equal” symbol, I would rather keep everything in terms of positive action*

GREEN = using what you have and making it last

ECO-CONSCIOUS = re-evaluating your usual level of consumption

GREEN = not wasting what you have

GREEN = considering the environmental  impact of the things you consume

ECO-CONSCIOUS = staying informed about the most useful tools for a “green” life

GREEN = eliminating from you life the things/substances that harm you

ECO-CONSCIOUS = eliminating from your life the things you don’t need

The last two points are the main focus of this discussion.  First, I wanted to eliminate the things/substances in my life that may harm me.  This seems rather obvious but will mean different things to different people.  Initially it meant getting rid of all my mainstream cleaning supplies.  I now use the standard “green clean” kit; a bag of baking soda, jugs of distilled white vinegar, vegetable-based liquid soap, the occasional leftover chunk of lemon and salt.  There is a myriad of combinations for these ingredients so I just experiment for the cleaning occasion.

For myself, the next step in the elimination of harmful things rests with food.  Not in the sense of going on a diet but rather getting rid of the foods in my kitchen that offer nothing but empty calories and and the taste of artificial flavors.  A really excellent resource for changing food habits is another Michael Pollan gem called, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.  Its a very small book, coming in at just 139 pages.  Each page is devoted to a food rule and the rules encompass everything from what to eat to where to shop for food.  I am considering removing the pages and posting as many as I can around my house, especially in the kitchen!

After a long winter of keeping the windows closed and accumulating the dust and clutter of life I wanted that feeling of lightness and clean.  So it became the perfect time to eliminate the things from my life that I did not need.  For a solid week I was really focused on getting rid of stuff.  I wanted to fly through my closets, book shelves and kitchen cupboards pulling out anything and everything I deemed superfluous.  Suffice it to say it has not been that whirlwind of an experience.  In fact, it has been a little tougher than I thought.  There appears to be a tiny hoarder hidden inside of me, a voice that says, “Hey, you might want that, later.”  There was also the question of, “Well I don’t need it but I certainly enjoy it, so whats wrong with that?”  The answer:  Nothing!  I realized that I was most frustrated and looking to cleanse my surroundings when everything got cluttered and disorganized.  So in the process of cleaning things out, I made a big effort to organize what I did want to keep.  The min-homesteader in me was eager to keep some of the old clothing for potholder and quilt material, and make a good storage space for the jars and containers I wanted for candles and soaps.

This post is a bit of a grab bag.  Obviously I touched on a lot of points that will each eventually be posts on their own.  What I wanted to convey is how “green” or “eco-conscious” is a concept that can be easily incorporated into everyday living and that your current lifestyle need not be utterly torn down to make way for “green.”  I see it more like a regime change.  Most people will probably do some kind of a Spring Clean.  Take it as an opportunity to try a little baking soda in your scrubbing, throw out the candy (or instead of waste, give it to someone with a sweet tooth!) and give your craft clutter a re-evaluation.  I cannot wait to explore the rest of my definition as I try out more and more “green” ideas!!

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So I made a trip to see a curious creature this week-the garden center ( This was after having made an online order of seeds and starters).  I am happy to report that I stuck with my initial garden plan!  This year will include two types of potatoes, pole beans, bush beans, a lettuce mix, snap peas, a basic herb selection and two types of sunflowers.  Ok, I fibbed, I threw on a small and charming rhubarb start because I dream of one day making a strawberry-rhubarb pie from scratch!!  It is with this desire of “from-scratch” that the garden center becomes an odd concept in my mind.  Without them where would I begin as a Hopeful Gardener?  I think maybe a seed swap or a neighbor with a prolific garden?  Maybe scavenge from a wild version (that’s assuming I know what I am looking at) ?  I certainly see the irony in my comments on a resource I so clearly must take advantage of.  As I browsed the massive selection of seeds, soils, sprays, plants, gloves, tools and every decorative garden stake known to man I began to note the sterility, tidiness and not to mention extravagant selection and required consumption in the modern gardening experience.  How is it eco-conscious to buy plastic bags of fertilizer every season?  Or a new set of plastic tools?  The ultimate silly that I recently laid eyes on was the plastic compost tumbler.  When I saw this product all I could imagine were people buying it with the best of intentions to begin composting and having it sit outside with a handful of rotting vegetables in it for the next few years, the novelty of it having worn off and the plastic with us forever.  Naturally there is a place in the world for businesses to offer gardeners and farmers the tools to do their craft.  At what point are these offerings keeping gardeners isolated from or even working against their purpose to cultivate and enjoy the world around them?

In this second year of my established garden I have worked very hard to not require a “tidy” garden from myself.  I have avoided artificial mulches, fertilizers and the overwhelming desire to weed like its going out of style.  When I fertilize I enjoy using Dr. Earth products.  They create organic products and much to my enjoyment only allow their products to be carried at independent garden centers (however I get mine at an Ace Hardware- not a chain?)  I discovered how effective it is to re-use and re-classify materials I already have for gardening.  This has significantly cut down on what I need to go and purchase new.  The most obvious example is the re-use of containers for planting-although I do use some of the old plastic starter plant containers to transport mulch and compost to different beds.  I treat my garden tools well and I don’t get hooked on garden gadgets.  You really only need a certain number of tools to do most garden jobs and a little research will save you money.  I will admit, the closest to “gadget” I get is my bulb planter.  Since bulbs are some of my favorites to cultivate this tube with teeth is indispensable when I am digging 60, four-inch deep holes into the ground as the bitter November winds blow.

A peak of green from a mysterious bulb...

One of the best gardening moment I had so far actually happened today.  I took some composted mulch I have been working on for a year and a half and spread it around my garden bed.  This pile was partially in place when I moved into my house and I amended it with  kitchen leftovers and cover soil from when I took out a number of fabric weed sheets.  Since the bottom of the pile was a bit of a mystery and the top was less than carefully planned I waited two winters while I turned and observed.  Today I laid it around my new bulbs and hardy perennials, mostly as a mulch and hopefully as a mild compost.

Funny enough I plan to go to the garden center this weekend and buy the bags of soil I am going to use to start my vegetable garden.  The goal is to get what I need and get out (a good goal to have at any store!)  Until my dreams of self-sufficiency and homesteading more fruitfully blossom I will admit that a Hopeful Gardner has to start somewhere. The important thing is that I finish in the garden bed, not at the check stand 🙂

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