Living and Gardening Sustainably

My blogging friend Jan is running this great little giveaway over at her blog. For details please click here. It is a sustainable living giveaway in honor of Earth Day which is on April 22 this year. To see what other garden bloggers are doing, please visit Jan's page.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has put forth an effort to help make our earth a more sustainable place to live in. I want to do all that we can to help preserve the pleasures we have been able to enjoy all of these years for our future generations. It's all the small things that can really add up to make a huge difference for everyone.
One of the many things I have been diligently working on is reducing the amount of trash that my family creates. At the rate some of our landfills are filling up we will run out of room in no time. I am doing my best to keep things that will break down quickly out of them altogether. My husband built me this great compost bin last summer to aid me in my efforts. In it I place all fruit and vegetable waste as well as leaves, hair, dirt that I sweep up, small pieces of cardboard, shredded up paper, and grass clippings. I am also trying to produce more of our own food so we don't have so many cans and plastic bags to recycle since that also uses precious energy. This food can then be frozen in plastic boxes or canned in my reusable glass containers. Reducing the number of plastic bottles that my family uses is also a major feat I am working to accomplish. We do this by reusing them and drinking water from our faucet whenever possible. Anything that we get rid of that is still in usable condition is donated to a charity such as Goodwill as well. I send less meat fats to the dump too as I am saving them to try to make my own soap. I have yet to get to this, but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually... I'm also still working on trying to figure out if it would be possible to ground the animal bones down to make my own bone meal too, if I find a good, practical way to do this I'll be sure to let you know. Cutting down on frivolous waste also slashes our bills by large amounts because we are sending less to the dump and buying less from outside sources. It's a win-win!

Often we waste precious resources as well. Think of all of the back breaking work it takes to make a traditional garden work. You need to till up so much soil, pick all of the rocks out of it, and dig through copious amounts of tree roots. So many people think that it's such hard work that they often give up altogether only part of the way through the summer. I mean think about it, there's weeding, watering, fertilizing, and thinning the plantings not to mention all of the space a garden takes up it the first place. My garden beds were so successful last summer and required so little time, attention, or resources I decided to add more of them this year. These gardens are modeled after Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Garden method with a lasagna style layering design to it as well as integrated pest management. The amount of water needed is drastically cut because once your seedlings emerge you simply mulch bed with grass, paper, leaves, pine needles,compost,... whatever. This mulch helps the soil retain moisture in the hot summer months and also adds nutrients so no artificial fertilizers or pesticides are needed. Not only does it decrease the amount of time we spend, but also water and money too. It also limits our exposure to chemicals that are abundant in many commercially prepared foods. Could there even be a better idea than that?

Conservation has always been pretty high on my list of priorities as well. Part of that tendency runs in my family, I think. We have a long line of frugal people that I am perpetuating by teaching these same values to my children. I don't like to use more of anything than what I need and I look for the cheapest possible way to get a job done. Let's think about water for a minute. If you live in town, you pay for sewer and water usage, but if you live in the country you want to be careful not to use too much water or your well may run the risk of running dry. We turn out water gets off when not in use, the water heater and hot water pipes have blankets and/or wraps to retain their heat (I'd also like to purchase a recirculator but I can't afford it now), I wash most clothes in cold water, and we use low flow shower heads to cut back on the amount of hot water used when showering. Then there's the whole issue of electricity which costs everyone everywhere money no matter where you live. Some of the steps we take to conserve energy include keeping the refrigerator and freezer full so they run less often, I use energy saving light bulbs which I try to use only one of at a time whenever possible, we live on a heavily treed lot so our central air is rarely needed since I artificially shade the house from the sun's rays when trees aren't blocking out the heat using blinds and curtain, I keep most appliances unplugged and put away when not in use, and I have installed power strips on the electronics I do keep plugged in so they only use energy when the power strip is turned on. Then there's gas for both our cars and heating our home in the winter. I try to plan my trips to town so I go as few times as possible, I keep storm windows closed in the winter to keep out additional cold but open the sun facing windows' blinds to let in as much light and heat as possible during the day, and we bought a programmable thermostat so we can lower our home's temperature when no one is up and/or home. I'd love to be able to afford a rain barrel to water my gardens with so I can conserve my well water for family drinking too someday, but they're not cheap to buy.

What are you doing to make our world a better place for our children and grandchildren?

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Cindy

10 comments:

tina said...

That's an awesome compost bin. It's so good looking and I know getting lots of use. Reducing our trash is an admirable goal.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

I really enjoyed your post, Cinj! It's great to read about all the things you're doing to conserve energy and contribute to sustainable living. Our world is big, but seems to be getting smaller each day...so everything each of us can do really does matter. I hope your gardens are full and rich this summer;-) Thank you so much for joining in! Have a wonderful spring! Jan

Cinj said...

Tina- Thanks. He worked really hard on it. I don't get it turned as often as I should but it's awesome. The front panels are removable.

Jan- Thanks. I like hearing about what everyone is doing too, so many people have such good ideas. Great minds can accomplish so much no matter where we live.

Christine B. said...

I (hope I) am teaching my children to be good citizens. We recycle together and my kids are great about bringing bags on our walks to pick up trash. I don't think it has to big things to live more lightly on the earth, our little changes make us feel like we are making a difference.

Christine in Alaska

GardenJoy4Me said...

Cinj you are doing a lot of GOOD girl ! I have to get something together or Jan is going to give me
the LOOK" soon ? LOL
I have been caught up in the heat of raccoon adventures and I am exhausted .. but I'm trying to tie up the rest of the lose ends now ? LOL
Great post girl : )
Joy

Nola @ the Alamo said...

I've just recently started "cold" composting, where I just till all the scraps into the beds. Also, started using my lawn clippings as mulch in the flower beds; don't have to bag them, and also don't have to buy mulch; double win!

Cinj said...

Joy- LOL. I took my time too, she sent me a reminder which I needed because I'm a total space cadet sometimes! I'll have to pop by and see what you mean about racoon adventures, it's been awhile again...

Nola- Good ideas. I don't get my compost bin hot but I usually build up my supplies in there before I mulch with the stuff. Some of them get blended in the blender with a bit of water or whatever and I "water" the garden with it too. I hate bagging things, why do people bother anyway?

garden girl said...

Lots of great tips Cinj! I do a lot of stuff similar to you - saving money, energy, helping our health and the environment - doesn't get much better than that!

I'm making a homemade worm bin, just waiting for my red wigglers order to put it all together. I compost outdoors too, but the worm bin will be great for quick compost and for not having to traipse outside with kitchen scraps in the snow, ice, and cold during the winter. Can't wait to get it started!

Cinj said...

Linda- I thought about that too but Cheesehead said no to an indoor worm bin. Maybe next year...

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Congratulations, Cinj...you're a winner;-)

http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-earth-day-contribution-and.html