This post is in participation of the second annual “Gardeners Sustainable Living Project” hosted over at Thanks for Today. Stop by the blog to see the wonderful collection of links to all the blogs that are participating in this project.
Yes, I’m much greener this year than last. And greener still than the year before that. I would love to tell you that all of my choices were clearly based on my desire to make less of an impact on our planet, but that would be a lie. Many of my choices in the past year were based on finances too. Yep, our country’s economic slide hit pretty hard in my neck of the woods. And last year, my budget was pretty tight to say the least. More of my choices had to be careful ones and were based on finances. Not fun, but there is a bright side. Many of the choices I made for financial reasons are also some of the best choices I could have made for my life and the planet. Those are the choices I share with you here.
Magazines. How does a gardener give up her subscriptions to her favorite gardening inspiration? Well it wasn’t easy… at first. I loved pouring over the issues of my Fine Gardening, Horticulture and Garden Design. I thought that I could even qualify them as a necessity since I do work in the horticulture field. But cut them I did. Guess what? I lived. I found that I could get almost the same information online at the magazine’s own website just a few month’s later when they would post articles on their own blogs. I also found similar inspiring stories on other gardener’s blogs. The greener side of this is two-fold. Think about all the paper used in production of those magazines vs. how long you keep them. Also think about the energy used to ship them to everyone. Yes, my not having three subscriptions would not make a huge impact on the environment, but little things do add up. The biggest green reward, however, in not having them was I became less of a consumer. Open any magazine these days and there is an ad on almost every page. If they are well done, they make us want and wanting makes us buy. I guarantee that if you cut back on those forms of media with tons of advertising dollars behind them, you will buy much, much less.
Composting/Recycling. I have been doing both for years, but casually. When I decided I wanted to cut down the size of my trash receptacle to the smallest one available to save some money both became a necessity. Now the challenge is almost fun. I’ve learned to think before I purchase about where the trash will end up. I have systems set up to make the chores much easier. I have not only a warm compost pile but also a nifty little worm bin where my wormy friends do their thing. I save money by not only having less to throw out, but free, awesome organic fertilizer. My garbage is certainly not the legacy I want to leave behind so this allows me to leave a whole lot less.
Thrift Shopping. I love the thrill of the hunt. You never know what you will find on any given day. I am able to make up about 75% of my entire wardrobe via second hand shopping and the savings are tremendous. In addition to clothing there are also all those great finds for the garden. On any given Saturday you can find awesome pots, plants and tools at garage sales around the country. Who needs a shiny new shovel when it’s only going to get dirty anyway? Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. What better way to do this than by being part of they thrift shopping cycle?
Better Plant Selection. I have finally learned to stop fighting my environment and work with it. I have stopped buying plants that will be fussy and needy in favor of those better suited to my climate and soil. I have stopped buying those that can be invasive. I have learned which cultivars attract certain pests and which attract beneficial insects. Doing a little research before planting rather than being tempted by something pretty at the nursery saves me a ton of frustration later. I also only occasional have to spray with Neem oil to handle any pest problem. My beneficial friends take care of the rest.
Growing & Eating Real Food. Michale Pollan’s book had a real impact on me two years ago. I decide to follow his rules of food selection and did find my initial food choices to be a bit pricier. But with a little effort in relearning how to cook and renewed interest in growing what I eat, the costs are starting to balance out. Selecting food that is sustainably or organically grown is not always easy, but I do it when I can. And I can’t say 100% that it’s been the food, but I haven’t had a cold in over a year.
Although some of these choices seemed difficult at first, they are all an old habit now. Just a year after incorporating these choices into my life, they have become what is my life. Little change over time do add up. In the past year I’ve learned that being greener doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, I can save quite a bit.