Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Earth Day Contribution, AND, Sustainable Living Project Winners!

When I created the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living project, I certainly wasn't 'green'. I knew about Earth Day from the '70's when I was in high school and our Ecology club taught us to put a brick in our toilet tanks to conserve water. I remember collecting bottles and newspapers for recycling back then, as well. But I've never associated myself with living 'sustainably' nor am I part of the 'green movement', nor am I a tree-hugger. I grew up with gardening but more as a hobby than a lifestyle, and I don't remember ever having composting as part of the process. I like to garden-- but admittedly, it hasn't been with the idea of being sustainable. We have a water sprinkling system, as we live in suburbia with a homeowners association and a yard that, if we were to let it go wild, would trigger them to sue us. We can't afford to move nor pay court expenses, and even if we could, I'd still choose to have some grass because I like it. However, I have thought a lot about the concepts of 'global warming', 'climate change' and 'the greenhouse effect' and with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaching, I thought it would be both educational, and fun, to hold this project. It's been both.


For one thing, I've learned that having a firm 'opinion' about 'Global Warming' is somewhat analogous to having a belief in God. Some are atheist, some are agnostic, some are believers but with moderation, and some take the 'all-or-nothing' approach that says it just IS and there is no in-between. With that in mind, I make no claims about the truth of any of it, other than there is no denying our everyday actions and lifestyle choices do, and will, have consequences (both positive and negative) now and in decades to come. Why waste water, litter and pollute, distribute chemicals and hazardous toxins (which clearly harm humans and animals alike) even when we might not always 'see' physical evidence that long-term damage is occurring? I can't see the point in mindless waste so on a personal note, no matter what I choose to believe, I want to show my appreciation for this precious life by doing whatever I can to limit my negative impact on other people and the world around me.

When it comes to what we're doing here at home, I think they are probably just 'simple' things and no Great-Green-Sacrifices, but I consider them important and that's why we are now making more conscious efforts in areas that we might have previously been lackadaisical. Here's a little of what we do now--some of which have improved because of so many well-written posts in this project--others that we've been doing for some time but are now doing more of or taking more seriously:

1. Recycling

*I wanted to add a larger bin (because our homeowners association dues pay for only a small box, along with the trash dumpster) so I called the company. They charge $75 per container! I was floored. So we are using our own, in addition to the one provided to us. We couldn't possibly recycle 'well' with just the one tiny plastic box they give us! Unfortunately, recycling is not a requirement in this area and we have to 'pay' to do it--but we'll do what we can.

2. Composting

*I now have my husband on-board and we have a container in the back yard where we can deposit (some) garden waste, kitchen (vegetation) waste, etc. He has been adding the grass clippings to it as well. It will be interesting to see what develops there--hopefully next year we'll have our own 'black gold'.

3. Gardening

*I have planted (in containers, on my deck) over 15 varieties of vegetables and herbs. I've never grown anything other than tomatoes and a few herbs and want to contribute not only to our own healthy living but being less dependent on stores for some of these items. I'm very excited about the radishes and lettuce--the first ones to make an appearance.

*I have started to recognize the importance of planting what 'grows well' in my garden and stop adding more ornamentals 'just because I like them'. I am not removing anything (so far) but as I make purchases now, I am adding only natives, wildflowers and plants that adapt well, will continue to bring wildlife to my yard, and will not need excessive amounts of water.

*My garden is certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and I've just applied to have it certified as a Monarch Way-Station. While my garden already contains many plants needed, I did recently plant asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) seeds (from a dear garden-blogging friend) but have seen no growth, so I just put in a mail-order for some already-established plants to be prepared for the incoming monarch migration. Monarchs will lay their eggs ONLY on asclepias and their young larva will eat ONLY asclepias--did you know that? I added several more natives and wildflowers to the order as well, because I can never have too many host plants for nectar and food for these beauties. *Learn more information about butterfly gardening at the U.S. Botanic Garden website.

4. Watering

*We will continue to use our in-ground sprinkling system this summer but be much more responsible with it than in years past. It may only need to be on once or twice a week and for a shorter amount of time. Any plants that need extra water I can water separately with the watering can. A rain barrel is on our minds--but I wasn't eligible for one in my own project so that may be something we will purchase. Like the recycling, no one is 'required' to conserve water in my area. It's too bad it will take a 'mandate' before many people will make changes.

5. Other

*Walking to work, to the store, to appointments is simply out of the question in my area. Public transportation is not available when we walk out the door. We simply must have vehicles to get around. My husband uses the HOV lane and picks up riders on his way to and from work. We use low-wattage lightbulbs. We donate no-longer-used items to Goodwill or other charities. We do all laundry on the cold water setting, and our large appliances are energy-efficient models. None of those things make us 'green', but we're doing the best we can with where we live and the lifestyle we have chosen.  We don't come close to most of the bloggers who posted in this project, but I wanted to contribute something and share honestly in this, since I made that an objective early on.


If you haven't read the posts yet, you have a lot to look forward to, HERE. And if you want to see the prizes, check them out, HERE.

Now here is the part that most of you have been waiting for--where I (finally) announce the 'winners' of this Earth Day writing project! First let me say that everyone who contributed a post is a winner in my book. They were outstanding. I hope readers will take the time to go through each and every one of them. Unfortunately, while this wasn't a 'competition', I still have to come up with people to receive the gifts. So obviously, everyone who deserves a gift cannot have one;-( I had fun with this, though, and I hope you all have too--and for many of you, it wasn't about 'winning a prize', anyway. There were a number of bloggers who entered from countries other than the US and Canada with no expectation of a prize. So thank you, to all of you, for joining in. And thank you to those bloggers who entered with the sole purpose of helping to support this project. I wish I had a prize for all of you--but you've taught me a lot.

In order to make the final selections for prizes, I took the numbers that correspond with each blogger's post, and wrote them on index cards. I omitted those that were ineligible due to country limitations and 2 bloggers who asked not to be included (numbers 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 24, 29 and 50). My 13 year old son and I shuffled those cards thoroughly and made sure no two numbers were ordered sequentially in the pile. Then we shuffled them again. And again. Then without looking, he selected the first card. That was for the grand prize...the Fiskars rain barrel. Then he selected two more cards, for the Cobra Heads. And on it went, from 'most expensive' to least expensive prize, awarded according to the name of the garden bloggers attached to the number their post is listed on my blog.

So, here they are! I know you thought I'd never get here!

#8. Pam in PA (Pam's English Cottage Garden): Rain Barrel
#54. Phillip in AL (Dirt Therapy): CobraHead
#32. Cinj in WI (Cinj's Chat Room): CobraHead
#15. Ginger in MS (Law of the Land): West County Gloves
#20. Kim/Victoria in ID (Our Life in Idaho): West County Gloves
#34. Joy in Canada (Garden Joy For Me): West County Gloves
#45. Jim in OH (illic est haud equus quoque mortuus barruo): GreenCure fungicide
#4. Meredith in TX (Great Stems): Water Bottle
#21. Allyson in NC (Living Green, Saving Green): Tote Bag

Please send me an email (starlight1957 AT gmail DOT com) with your addresses so I can get these prizes off to you!

Many thanks to those who donated prizes and to Joe Lampl for agreeing to assist in obtaining the grand prize.  If I'm still blogging this time next year, I might hold this again, and open it up to non-bloggers as well. Stay tuned!

Finally, remember to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd...this Thursday. Also, try to recognize it a little bit Every day;-)

Today I am thankful for today, just because.

Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble


  1. Hi Jan,

    Thanks again for hosting this Project - it was amazing to see and read of the posts, and encouraging for the world that there are so many great people trying to do their part! Congratulations to all of the prize "winners", like you said everyone is a winner here. I hope you hold it again next year - I would love to participate again.

    Kathy (Gardening for Nature)

  2. Jan, you did a great job reminding us all that we have a responsibility to our planet and need to take positive action to remedy the damage that has been done to it.

    Congratulations to the winners!

  3. Congratulations to the winners! And thank you Jan for hosting it- I found a lot of new blogs to follow!

  4. I agree, there have been some wonderful articles, though I'm sure I'm missed some, so I'll be sure to go back down the list. Next year I'll endeavor to be organized enough to participate too!

  5. Congratulations to the winners. I haven't had a chance to read through the blogs yet, but found your post very inspiring. We just installed a rain barrel ourselves, and I had the satisfaction of being able to water the plants on the patio from it during the week.

  6. thanks so much for hosting this Jan! I know I'll enjoy those gloves.

  7. Thanks, Jan, for all your hard work in putting this together!

  8. How come husbands, finally, and onboard always seem to used in the same sentence. Thanks for all the hard work. Hey! I won. Far out. jim

  9. Jan -- it's been hectic here on my end of things, with all this schoolyard habitat excitement (I can't wait to report on Earth Day!). But I've been checking in periodically, and I've been thrilled to see what a response you've had on the Sustainability Project! You have accomplished so much with this project, and thank you so much for your hard work and the inspiration you've given others to do more for Earth.

    I'm so excited about the water bottle, too -- it's perfect timing, because I was so close to buying one but waiting to find just the right one for me. Well, this prize fits me to a T! Thanks to Hip Mountain Mama, too!

  10. Jan: Although I did not participate your project, I have been reading some of blog posts related to this. We are doing some research of rain barrels as well. I am engaging my husband to do that :) Your post is very inspirational. We still have a lot to learn, but will try our best to do whatever we can for now.

  11. You're doing a great job of living green :)
    I love my rain barrel, but if I was starting over, I'd go on and get two and a linking kit.

    Thanks for the contest and the gloves! I can't wait!

  12. Congrats to the winners, and thanks, Jan, for hosting such a worthwhile project. :)

  13. Jan, I really enjoyed participating in this project and also reading all the other posts. Well, almost all of them, still working through them, but almost there. I didn't hear of your project till close to the end and I'd just like to say I'd love to donate one of our original garden sculptures as a prize if you do this next year. Thanks so much for the work you did to make this project so successful.

  14. Well said, Jan. It is important to make a choice concerning the 'little' things in life as well as the big. 'Waste not, want not' is a quote from the past which was uttered often by my parents and grandparents. Time to bring it back.

  15. Congrats to all the winners. It was fun reading others posts on what sustainable living means to them.

  16. Congratulations to all the winners! This was a great project, Jan, and even without the prizes, I think all of us who participated enjoyed it and took the time to really think about what we could improve on ourselves to be more sustainable. Like you, I didn't think of myself as being that "green," but I think every small step that each of us takes will add up to a significant improvement. Thanks so much for hosting this--through you and all the bloggers who participated the message was spread to many, many people.

  17. Kathy, I'm glad you liked it & would like to do it again next year! Thanks for participating!
    Marnie, thank you, and I'm glad you think it was a helpful reminder for others.
    Carri, I'm so glad you joined in and found some new blogs to follow;-) Thanks for joining in;-)
    CV, I'm glad you've enjoyed reading the posts & hopefully you will be able to participate next year.
    Jayne, glad you found my post inspiring. I didn't try to cover up my lack of 'green-ness'...just tried to tell it like it is;-) I hope we can get a rain barrel too because I could make great use of one. Thank you for joining in;-)
    Kim/Victoria: Thank you for your great post, and congrat's! I'm glad you enjoyed this, & I'll send the gloves soon.
    Kathy, Thank you too, for your post and helping to support this;-) It's been nice to get to know you a little, too;-)
    Jim, Far out! Yes, I'll pass along your info. today so the product can be sent to you;-) Congrat's, & thank you for joining in!
    Meredith, I need to catch up w/what you've been doing with your school-yard project...I'll look forward to your post. I'll pass along your info so the bottle can be sent to you;-) Congrat's--and thank you!
    Ami, So glad you're enjoying the posts, and the best we can all do is to try. Learn about the issues, make small changes, etc...then some of them will eventually become a way of life. If you get a rain barrel you'll have to share a post about it;-)
    Ginger, Thanks--but I feel inadequate compared to the rest of you guys who really are living green. I have learned a lot from you & your own tree-hugging has given me inspiration to hug some of my own;-) I want to have a rain barrel & I like the idea of linking 2 together. I'll get the gloves to you soon! Thanks for joining me in this project;-)
    Nancy, I am so happy you joined in and gave me some support because it really added so much to this;-) Thank you & I'm glad you have enjoyed it.
    Helen, I'm so glad you joined in and have enjoyed the posts. If I do this again next year please let me know of your interest to donate a prize...how wonderful that would be! Thank you;-)
    Layanee, Yes, we all have choices and depending on our circumstances can at least try to minimize our own negative impact on the world. Glad you stopped by!
    Tina, I so appreciate your participation & wish I could send a gift to everyone who took the time to write a post. Thank you, and I'm glad you've enjoyed reading other's posts;-) I will always remember your 'sparkles':-)
    Rose, thank you so much for joining me in this! I'm glad you feel that you've learned something and had a chance to think about the issues because of this & found this project worthwhile;-)

  18. Hello Jan,

    I just want to thank you for giving us all a platform to express our thoughts and tips in honor of Earth Day.

  19. Dear Jan, I am so.o.o excited to be the grand-prize winner, and cannot believe my luck! We just installed more guttering and were looking to purchase another rain barrel.

    Thank you so much for devising the Garden Bloggers' Sustainable Living project, not only because I am a winner, but because it evoked such wonderful posts. It really made us think about what we need to do to keep the Earth green! And most of all it was fun to write, and to read everyone's entries. Your own contribution is excellent. You have motivated me to look into the Monarch Way-Station project. Although you didn't qualify for a prize, you are a WINNER in my book!

    Congratulations to all the other winners! And thanks again, Jan. I still can't believe it ...

    Pamela xxx

  20. Thank you for being such a wonderful host Jan. It was a very worthwhile project and I'm glad I participated. It's even better that I won! I don't usually win anything.

    I didn't know that about monarchs, maybe that's why we don't have many around our yard... Thanks for all of your efforts, both in this project and for all of the things you do to help make our world a better place.

  21. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to Jan for a very great contest that made us all think a bit.

  22. Way to go, Jan. It's very heart-warming to read posts by so many, many people that are actually and completely environmentally concerned. :-) Thank you for spearheading this event. I'm sure it became much larger than you had anticipated!!

  23. Jan, your choices are sound and I'm encouraged by what everyone who has posted has done. I think there are a lot of folks out there like us who do what we can. So it's not all doom and gloom. I think politicians could learn from us little folks! Thanks for doing this and reminding us of the importance of our small steps.

  24. I think you're doing great "green" things and have found out how easy it is if you just think about the ways you impact your world at home and beyond. Keep inquiring about recycling and other things in your community. As people want those options, more usually become available. I sure hope you try the rain barrels. You plants will love having water that hasn't been clorinated. Happy gardening.

  25. Just wonderful awareness and give away Jan. thanks for taking all the time and energy to make us all think a bit more about our footprints on the Earth.


Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!


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