The Waves of Environmental Consciousness
With all the talk about conserving our natural resources and supporting conservation efforts around the globe, you may be sitting at home and wondering ‘well what can I do?’, thinking that one person or household could not possibly make a noticeable impact. Think again. Conservation efforts go far beyond reforestation and wildlife preserves. There are so many ways that we as individuals can make a dramatic impact (albeit over time) in the way we choose to live. Making the conscious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle has become a lifestyle for my family and while the thought may seem overwhelming at first, you can start out small and gradually build upon what you do, even getting younger members of the family involved.
Being a single mom of two children, ages 5 and 8, our endeavor to be a bit more green began a few years ago when we spent much of our time living in Vermont. Having a large parcel of land allowed us to cultivate flower gardens, a vegetable and herb garden, and various berry bushes. Rather than spend all sorts of money on fertilizers, we got into the habit of composting anything and everything that didn’t have a shell. The only other precautions to take if you are going to compost on a ‘small’ scale is not to put any meat or anything with seeds into your compost bin; the seeds will sprout before you know it and the whole batch will have a longer break-down time, giving you plants where you probably didn’t intend them to grow. When composting, there isn’t even a need to spend a lot of money and buy one of those big heavy-duty barrels you crank to turn your batch over. We found it was just as effective to collect our compost in a bin on the counter and make a daily trip out to the barn where we kept a metal garbage can for all the scraps, using a shovel to turn the compost every week or so. As you go through this process, you’ll get satisfaction in seeing the rich, dark, nutrient-rich soil turn up from the bottom, ready to be spread in your flower beds and garden.
Although Earth Day has come and gone, there are still plenty of things you can do throughout the rest of this year to reduce the waste that is either dumped into our landfills or incinerated only to go into our atmosphere. Think of all the plastic containers your household discards over the course of just one week, let alone the countless amounts you will go through in an entire month or year. Instead of tossing these containers into the trash can, take the few extra moments to rinse them and set aside for recycling. If you live in an area where recycling is not picked up curbside, there are plenty of ways to reuse many of these items. For instance, haven’t we all, at some point, purchased plastic storage containers from the market or local box store? Not to say that Rubbermaid containers aren’t great, but when you are working to reduce the amount of non-biodegradables you toss in the trash, think about how you can refill your water bottles, return your soft drink cans for the deposit (don’t throw them away; it adds up!), save the yogurt containers for art projects with the kids or to use as snack cups for them (I put everything from trail mix to fruit in them; just the right size for small hands to carry around while keeping portion control in mind). In my house, we reuse everything from paper towel tubes (good for art projects or an easy storage solution for all those plastic shopping bags that accumulate; just shove them in the tube and you have your own ‘free’ dispenser for them!) If you are someone that already returns your bottles and cans in order to get your five cent deposit back, consider the additional value that sits right on top of those cans; did you know that by pulling the pop-top tab off the can and saving them, you can turn them into your local hospital or renal dialysis center for an important cause.
**because of the importance of issues such as what has been discussed in this blog post, we have decided to continue this article in installments so we can address the issues discussed more fully and because we realize the average blog reader’s attention span is limited! We will continue to post installments to this post frequently.