By Mary Tucker
Before I get started, let me say that many of us have been “going green” but just didn’t know it for a long time. We called it “making do with what we had;” later on it was called recycling. I remember carefully opening gifts, folding and saving wrapping paper along with ribbons, cutting off the ripped parts before reusing. I’ve even been known to iron the paper. Grandchildren receiving gifts in the mail always said, “When the package is wrapped in a brown grocery bag, we know it’s from Gramma.”
Now as to “going green” I’ll skip over getting new energy-saving appliances, remodeling your home, buying a new hybrid car and talk of easy, everyday ways of saving our dwindling resources.
*In the home: When making meals, make enough for two meals, refrigerate and serve the second meal in a few days, reheating in the microwave. Buy locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers or roadside markets close to your home, saving energy used for transportation. If this is not possible, using fresh produce will reduce the amount of cans and bottles that need to be disposed of. I use the most highly absorbent paper towels as napkins or placemats, then dampen them to wipe table and sink area and next use to wipe spills and spots on the floor.
When doing laundry use cold water in washer; today’s detergents clean and sanitize just as well as hot water does. Always do a full load. One of the rules I had when everyone was living at home was “no using washer or dryer for a particular item of clothing to wear that day.” Gazette readers know that I use the clothesline on good days. Folding or hanging laundry as soon as it is taken in will eliminate ironing. During rainy spells and winter dry in dryer for 20 minutes, then put on hangers on shower rod to dry overnight.
Most homes are equipped with storm windows. To save more on heating turn the thermostat down a few degrees, use draft dodger snakes, cover windows with plastic on the inside, and heavy insulated drapes in the winter. During summer keeping blinds down and drapes closed keeps the house cool. (From the AARP Bulletin: lowering thermostat by just 1 degree in winter and raising 1 degree in summer will save $55 a year and reduce greenhouse gas emission.)
*Outside the home: When mowing set mower blade at 3″. This keeps grass looking cleaner and healthier. After dandelion season is over, use grass clippings for mulch. Use weed killers sparingly on lawns or not at all. Commercial lawn care companies recommend that children and pets be kept off lawns for several days after they spray.
*Plant a vegetable garden: a 4′ by 8′ raised bed garden will produce enough for a family of 4 and will not require too much effort. For help getting started, see the “Garden Phyllisophy” columns in the Gazette and the gardening books in the Andes Public Library. Friends and neighbors who garden are always willing to share helpful ideas. No space for a garden? Try container gardening–use any type of large pot or vessel. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and herbs do well in containers. Try container flower gardening, combining varieties and colors. Some garden centers have plants in peat pots to be planted as is; peat will disintegrate and enrich the soil.
*Composting kitchen scraps: Make a small pile of scraps (no meat or fat) next to each garden spot. No need to turn it over, just take the soil from the bottom as it composts and keep adding scraps to the top. Compost pile can be covered with a burlap bag, if you wish. Before and after growing season, dig a trench in the garden; put scraps in portion of trench, covering with soil each time. Grinding scraps speeds composting. This really works!! I did not grind mine. With the help of earthworms in several weeks it was composted.
*Saving Gas: Coordinate trips with friends and neighbors. Keep tires inflated at the recommended level. Avoid quick starts and stops. Drive at a uniform speed under 55mph. Gas use jumps significantly when driving over 55 mph.
In closing, these are things that everyone can easily do. Even adding one or two of these ideas to your routine will help the “going green” movement. ~