Friday, February 18, 2011

Sustainable Living Project

If you remember about this time last year a bunch of magnificent garden bloggers joined with me in the Garden Bloggers' Sustainable Living Project. This year I've opened it up to non-bloggers as well!
What is it?

The Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project was created to share ways that gardeners are actively practicing a greener lifestyle and contributing to protecting our environment. If you are a gardener, garden blogger, garden writer, garden media, garden merchandiser--you can join in and share what you do to help, rather than hinder, nature. Just because we are gardeners doesn't mean we're operating 'sustainably'. Let's find ways to garden by taking into account our impact on the environment and whether that has a positive effect on our health and that of Mother Earth.


In Mid March I will publish a post on my blog, Thanks For Today, where I will ask you to attach a link to your blog post--or, if you prefer, just leave a comment--sharing what you are doing, or plan to change, about the way you live and garden. My post will be open from March 15 through April 15th. You do NOT need to be 'green' to join in--just interested and aware of our environment and willing to look at what you can do to contribute positively and eliminate or reduce unnecessary actions. Maybe you would like to share one thing or a dozen things. It doesn't matter how long or short your blog post or comment is. Just say something!

Part of the fun of this project is that you will be entered in to a drawing for garden-related gifts and prizes. There will be a couple of larger gifts, the grand prizes--and a variety of smaller ones. Those who write blog posts are eligible for all of them. The grand prizes might be a rain barrel (like last year)--or maybe a composter--or a mulching mower; who knows?! This is not final yet, however. All of the other items and gifts will be things like tools, gloves, books, etc., which both commenters and bloggers wiill be eligible for. Each person will be eligible for one prize only. There (may) be some restrictions with regard to country eligibiliity, which might limit (some) prizes to only those in the US & Canada, BUT last year many gardeners participated with the knowledge they would not receive a prize.

I will post another announcement when it's time to send in the links to your blog posts and/or leave comments. Thanks for joining in and I hope you will have fun sharing with and learning from gardeners around the world! OH, and Please DO SHARE and invite your friends to come over and join in the fun! The project lasts for an entire month, from March 15th to April 15th, so all contributions entered during that time will be included.

In the meantime please see last years project to get a feel for what this is about. The change I've made this year is to include ALL gardeners, not just garden bloggers.

If you are on Facebook, please join the 'Events' page there, as well!


Below is a summary of my perspective on sustainability. You might have a different one. I hope you'll share yours next month!

My View of the Matter:

When I created the Garden Bloggers' Sustainable Living Project for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (last year in 2010), 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'd never associated myself with living 'sustainably', wasn't part of the 'green movement', nor was 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 liked to garden-- but admittedly, it wasn't with the idea of being sustainable. But I had been thinking a lot about the concepts of 'global warming', 'climate change' and 'the greenhouse effect'--so when the 40th anniversary of Earth Day was approaching, I thought it might be both educational, and fun, to hold this project. It turned out to be both!


However you view the concepts of global warming and climate change, there is no denying that 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 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 gardeners sharing their ideas in this project in 2010--others that we've been doing for some time but are now doing more of or taking more seriously:

1. Recycling

*We cannot possibly recycle 'well' with just the one tiny plastic box provided to us by our trash company. I wanted to add a larger bin on wheels (because our homeowners association dues pay for only a small box, along with the trash dumpster) so I called the garbage company. They charge $75 to purchase a recycling dumpster! So we are using our own extra containers in addition to the one small one provided to 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 an area in the back yard where we can deposit garden and kitchen (vegetation) waste. He has been adding the grass clippings and leaves to it as well. It's been interesting to watch what develops there--our own 'black gold' mine;-)

3. Gardening

*I have planted (in containers, on my deck) over 15 varieties of vegetables and herbs. Prior to last year I had never grown anything other than tomatoes and a few herbs and want to contribute not only to our own healthy living but become less dependent on stores for some of these items.

*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 more 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 certified as a Monarch Way-Station. Monarchs will lay their eggs ONLY on Asclepias (milkweed) and their young larva will eat ONLY Asclepias--did you know that? So last year I added several varieties of Asclepias and other natives and wildflowers because I can never have too many host plants for nectar and food for these beauties.

4. Watering

*We will continue to use our in-ground sprinkling system during the summer but try to be much more responsible with it than in years past. It gets very hot and dry here in the summer but I am working on ways to reduce its use to shorter amounts of time. Any plants that need extra water I can water separately with the watering can. We are thinking about installing a 'drip system'. A rain barrel is on our minds, as well. I wasn't eligible for one in my own project last year so that may be something we will purchase (or make). 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 can walk or ride bikes for short distances but in general, 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 light bulbs. 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 garden bloggers who posted in this project in 2010, but I wanted to share honestly in this, since I made that an objective early on.

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @
Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.


  1. Can't wait to participate in this. What a great idea!

  2. Thanks for inviting us to participate in this year's event Jan. It will be fun!

  3. Jan, What an incredible idea. I would definitely like to participate. You say that what you are doing doesn't make you green, but I disagree. If every household in America did what you are doing, we would make huge strides. It is not big actions that will win this battle, but many little actions by lots of people. Carolyn

  4. This is a wonderful and admirable idea Jan. I am looking forward to seeing what others write about and do in their gardens. I do many of the normal things, like compost and collect rain water, but it will be a challenge to think of something new.

  5. Jan I cannot wait to participate this year...the creative juices are following...this is a very passionate subject for me too!!

  6. It looks like a lot of fun! I will be sure to join in

  7. Hi Jan, I'm looking forward to this! This is a topic that is important to all of us.

  8. This is a great idea. I'm sure I'll learn so much; I had no idea that milkweed was the only place monarch's laid eggs. I just started some seeds for my garden a few weeks ago. Thanks!

  9. Glad you're doing this again Jan!

  10. Glad you are interested and I'm looking forward to your contributions! Thanks!

  11. Have fun with this, Jan. I won't try to participate this year because I'm going to be a bit too busy, but I'll read with interest what others have to share.

  12. Hi Jan, I'll definitely be joinging in again this year, and I've also put up a post at our group website Wildlife Garden that helps to get people interested:



  13. Wonderful idea.. Count me in :)

  14. Betsy and Kathy: Thank you so much for writing posts about this! That is wonderful and helps to spread the word. The more the merrier;-) I really appreciate your support!
    To everyone here, I'm excited to have you join in. If you check out the 'Events' section on Facebook there are already 50 people signed up and more that are thinking about it. I think by the time March comes more will want to share and read about each others practices & plans! The garden community is a friendly one and we all enjoy sharing each others practices & plans--and I can't wait;-)

  15. It's a worthy project - thanks for taking the time to sponsor and manage it. I wonder what the output will be - will there be some kind of digest page? That would be cool. Now you've got me thinking about green practices - always a good thing!

  16. Jan - this is simply off the hook! It's a subject near and dear to my heart (sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint), at work in particular. That may be part of my post for the event... Thanks for hosting!

  17. Great work -- count me in!

  18. Dear Jan, How wonderful that you are continuing this important project. I would love to take part again, but as I won the grand prize last year, I respectfully request you not enter me for the drawing to give others a chance. I look forward to reading everyone's entries. P x

  19. To those of you who've contributed so far, thank you! I look forward to everyone joining in and sharing! To me, it's all about sharing and taking in what we can do in our own little corner of the world to make it just a little better!
    Jodi, I totally understand, as you are so busy now that your wonderful new book has been published! You are welcome to through in a comment if you wish, no blog post necessary;-)
    Pam, I understand completely but do encourage you to join in, just the same. Many people who won last yr. are again doing so, but also, people who are donating prizes are entering so please don't let that make your decision for you. I could remove your name from the contestants for one, or all, of the prizes if you would prefer. Mainly, just sharing with each other is what this is about and I'd be happy even if you just leave a 'comment'!
    Happy Spring;-)


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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