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:
*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.
*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'.
*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.
*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.
*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