For those of here in Northern California we are finding ourselves once again needing rain. The flowers are even confused as my Paper Whites are already peaking up out of the ground a month early.
We were drowning last year and now it is January 6th as I write this and we had our first significant rain fall. It was wonderful to sleep with my window open and listen to it. I always feel this sigh of relief from the earth here. Almost as if she has been holding her breath and takes a great big exhale.
Prior to this we were experiencing unusually warm weather. We have been able to continue to garden, go hiking/walking and in general be outside comfortably. I have been enjoying playing in the dirt, redesigning my garden area and taking walks with my dog in the sunshine.
I have always enjoyed being outside as much as possible. I go absolutely crazy being inside too much. There is a deep connection with the earth that is growing even more deeply within me. I remember a couple of years go finding tears stream down my face as I watched a neighbor across the street spray their property with Round-Up. It sounds silly maybe, but I could honestly feel Mother Earth’s pain. That moment solidified for me my determination to do all I can for the environment. By no means am I perfect but I do my best each day.
There are many ways to help the earth and I thought I would share them today and see if there any you might consider implementing this year.
1) Get rid of your grass. What it takes to maintain a lawn is crazy. Extensive watering, weed control (usually with poison), mowing, edging, fertilizing etc. Begin to watch nature and see what grows naturally in your area. I have been in the process now for seven years in not extensively watering my 2/3 of an acre and I have never sprayed. I am finding out what grows naturally here and what doesn’t. Yes – I have lost some trees and bushes that couldn’t withstand the heat and no to little water, but my yard is beginning to do what it will naturally. Believe it or not Mother Nature knows WAY better than we do. Let her do her thing. So what if it isn’t the manicured look you’re used to. It’s just a matter of changing your outlook on what is pretty.
2) Reduce, reuse, recycle. I know that most of us know this, but take an honest look around you. Think twice about buying some new item that you don’t really need, find things at your local goodwill and by all means take the time to recycle everything you can. Even better yet, begin to notice what you can do to reduce the packaging you use or buy. The fancy coffee makers with the pods are wreaking havoc on the environment. Use a coffee press or if you are using a filter did you know it can be composted along with the coffee grains? And plants like Rhododendrons and Azaleas love coffee grains! I’ve been seeing online how some folks are taking a year to see how to live without creating any trash. Although I haven’t gone that far, I will admit it sound interesting to me. It’s important that we can begin to think beyond our own convenience. Little things can and do make a difference.
3) Walk when you can. One of the reasons I bought my home where I did was because it was so close to downtown, post office and banks. I walk everyday. I have a friend who lives in Wisconsin and posted a picture of her twin daughters, 9 years of age, all bundled up, walking to school in -5 degrees because they wanted to! They love it! I’ve even seen photos of them riding their bikes down the snowy road to school. Dress properly, give yourself a little extra time and see if you can walk a bit more.
4) Compost all winter. Even though your compost might freeze solid and decomposition come to a complete stop, there is no need to stop composting. In fact, the freeze-thaw cycles will help to break down the materials that you are adding, so they will decompose even faster when the spring arrives.
5) Maintain your car. Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy by up to 3 percent and lead to increased pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions [source: EPA]. Under-inflation also increases tire wear, so it will save you money in the long run if you’re good about checking your tire pressure.
6) Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and unplug appliances when you’re not using them. It only takes a second to be environmentally conscious.
7) Be water wise. Shorter showers, don’t flush every time, reduce your watering outside. Drip systems and timers all help to reduce water usage. The little things can make a big difference. Every time you turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, you’re doing something good. Got a leaky toilet? You might be wasting 200 gallons of water a day. Try drinking tap water instead of bottled water, so you aren’t wasting all that packaging as well.
I know that none of these tips are earth shattering or new. I share them so that you may take a moment and see what you can do to help. Take another look at if you can do just a little bit more this year. maybe you’ve thought about implementing some of these and this has been a great reminder. If you have more tips that you do share here. I’d love to know what you are doing to protect this planet we depend on.
I hope your new year is shaping up to be a great one!