St. Patrick’s Day – 5 Great Ways to Live a #Greener Life

Plant a garden with flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! One of my favorite holidays, not only for the color, but also to celebrate the Irish heritage.

Uncommonly warm and sunny in the middle of March in Ohio, St. Patrick’s Day inspires me to truly think & be green today – the greenest day of the year!

5 Ways you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Live a Greener Life

1. Start a garden. March is the month to start planting seeds, repot last year’s houseplants, prep the ground (or planters) for your summer garden. visit your local greenhouse to answer questions about what you should plant and where. Living in an apartment with only the morning sun on my balcony does limit what I can plant; however, greens like lettuce, spinach and kale will fare well in mostly shade. Assess your space whether it’s a 8′ x 12′ plot in your backyard or a 6 foot cement patio, you can still fill your space with plenty of fresh herbs and veggies that will be ready when the summer heat hits.

2. Volunteer with a community garden. Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb (sometimes I wonder myself), there are plenty of tasks to do to keep a garden green and growing all season long. There’s weeds to pluck, seeds to plant, and oftentimes community gardens accept veggie scraps and leaves for the compost. Get your kids involved too. Ask around about community gardens, look in the newspaper or call your local city hall to find the nearest community garden. Urban gardens are sprouting up, literally, where abandoned houses and parking lots used to be. In my area, I’m just tickled green to see another fenced in garden in the most run-down neighborhoods. That’s urban development in the most greenest sense to me!

3. Start a compost. Thinking green, invest in creating or buying a composter for your kitchen or backyard. Amazon has
countertop compost bins if you don’t have space or the time to have one outside. Use the compost in potted plants, your garden, your neighbor or community garden. The nutrients combined with soil will yield better and organic crops. Read more about how to use compost in your garden here. Worm bins are also a great alternative to using indoor compost bins and buckets. Of course, you’ll  need worms and some soil, but worm poop is the best organic fertilizer for your plants and if you take care of “feeding” the red wrigglers, you won’t have to endure the stink of their process either.

4.  Eat more plant based food. Have you noticed the rising cost of food lately? Meat, especially pork, will continue to rise in price throughout 2012 and beyond. Do yourself, your health and your family some good and reduce the amount of animal products in your diet. Plant based diets are easily digestible, contain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to keep all your organs working properly. Start simply, eliminate one animal based meal a week with a vegetable or grain entree. Two of the 3 main meals I eat daily do not contain meat or animal by-products.  I buy tofu (soybean) based products as well as whole grains to replace the protein found in meats.

5. Buy local. Local farms and roadside stands are more abundant or maybe as abundant as they were 30 years ago. Buying local seasonal foods decreases fuel costs, lessens exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides and puts your hard earned wages back into the community. Check out this resource to find a list of local farms in your area, LocalHarvest.org

I could go on and list more, but I know you really want to get out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and I have some Irish recipes to tend to today, so enjoy this great Green day.

Go Irish!

How to Live a Greener Life – One Day at a Time

You can turn over a new leaf and live a greener lifestyle with these 7 easy tips.

7 Ways to Live Greener

Recycling is just one way to green your lifestyle.

What’s stopping you from turning over a new (green) leaf? Do you think it takes too much time or your friends, room mates or family will thing you’re a tree hugger of sorts? Cast all those worries aside, it’s time to get educated and change your lifestyle not only for the Earth but also for your health!

You too can have a greener life – here are 7 ways to start:

1. RECYCLE – I know that since I started recycling several years ago (I never really stopped, just recycled different items), my trash has decreased by 50%. I only carry out 1 bag of trash every week. I only have a family of 2, so if your family is bigger, then maybe you might have a little more.

2. Start a COMPOST – Reduce your weekly trash by another 25% by contributing your fruit and vegetable bits as well as yard trimmings to a compost bin either inside or outside. Americans throw away about 96 billion pounds of food every year, according to SolidWasteDistrict.com. You can also save these bits in a small bin on your countertop and take it to a community garden or other local farm that utilizes composting. Check out the types of compost bins available at CompostBins.com or build a compost yourself.

3. Buy REUSABLE (NON PLASTIC) WATER BOTTLES – I asked for a stainless steel water bottle last year for Easter, then I bought 2 more for family members and have never regretted it. There are several types of reusable water bottles, but only a couple are really safe for you to reuse over and over. I believe stainless steel is the best kind, and if you find a double cylinder steel bottle it will keep your drinks colder longer. Although the same tips apply to reusable water bottles as disposable ones; don’t leave it in your car all day, do not freeze it and remember to wash it everyday. I use vinegar or baking soda and water to clean out my stainless steel water bottle.

4. Only use REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS – I think almost every grocery store now offers a selection of reusable grocery bags whether they are made from recycled cotton, soda bottles or another recycled material. I now own over 7 reusable grocery bags that I purchased from Walmart, they are also completely washable, and can hold up to 4 plastic bags worth of groceries. I know there are a few stores who will even reimburse you a nickel for each reusable grocery bag you use. And many know that California has now enforced many retailers to stop supplying plastic grocery bags. I think this act needs to be the law for the rest of the 49 states. You can put more items in a reusable grocery bag than its plastic counterpart thus leaving with less bags. There is no need to double bag anything nor wrap meat in a separate bag. A good tip is to pack all your cold or frozen items together, and keep your boxed and fresh produce in separate bags.

5. Use CFL BULBS – I bought a 6 pack of Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs when I moved into my apartment 2 years ago and haven’t had to change 1 bulb yet (except for the one I accidentally broke). Every table lamp has an energy efficient CFL bulb that’s guaranteed to last 5 years (keep your receipt and the warranty in the same place). If you can’t afford to switch all your bulbs at once, then replace one or two at a time. There are CFL bulbs to replace traditional chandelier bulbs and indoor reflector bulbs. Home repair stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot carry a variety of CFLs as well as almost any other retail store. I suggest buying a 4 or 6 pack, and if you have extras share them with a friend or neighbor.

6.  REUSABLE CLOTH NAPKINS – Reduce your contribution to the already millions of tons of paper waste in America. You can get an average of 3 -4 uses from a cotton napkin before you really need to wash it Better yet, scour the thrift stores; they are usually found with the rest of the kitchen and bath towels and tablecloths. Pick up material scraps and make your own, oftentimes you don’t even need a sewing machine. Start with a minimum of 2 sets (one for each family member who lives in your household) and build your way up from there. Once you start using them on a regular basis, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using them sooner.

7. UNPLUG unnecessary APPLIANCES – Even though it’s not turned on your computer, cell phone charger, microwave, coffee pot, crock pot and bedroom TV are generating electricity at your cost. If you’re not using it, unplug it or use a multi-outlet that has a switch. Why let “phantom energy” rob you every month. It may seem worthless, but I’m sure at the end of the month you’ll find it really made cents!