Go Green This Summer

my neighborhood and neighborsSearching out ways to protect the environment and leave a smaller carbon and chemical footprint.

The sound of summer in my neighborhood is the sound of lawn mowers…(usually big riding mowers), and air conditioners. The bees in my neighborhood have mostly gone elsewhere… I wonder if they have died?

The large variety of birds that I used to have in my neighborhood seem to have dwindled in numbers… where have they all gone?

The pond that I used to catch dozens of big fish in is still here, but the grassy pasture land that surrounded it is now planted on a rotating crop basis and I’m not sure if it’s safe to eat the fish I catch because of the run off.

When I talk to my neighbors about the fleas and the ticks , they tell me all about the wonderful stuff that you put a few drops on the dog’s back and it kills the fleas after they bite…. they don’t stop to consider that not only does that stuff stink, it is putting a chemical into their dog’s bloodstream that is a poison!

What ever happened to good old fashioned conservation and protection of the environment?

Well I for one have decided that I will make a sincere effort to change the size of MY carbon and chemical footprint, and hopefully can convince others to do the same. To start with, I purchased a regular “old fashioned” human powered grass cutter, the reel type. It has the benefit of being at least $200 cheaper than the cheapest gas operated mower! And it makes no noise! AND it helps you to burn calories when you mow with it, big time.

environmentally-friendly-mowerI admit, I pampered myself and bought one of the better models, with ball bearings for easier pushing and pulling. I will still use my big riding mower when I absolutely have to cover a large expanse in a small amount of time but I will definitely use my little reel mower for the steep parkings that I have along my curbside, and I will also take care of all the weeds that grow close to the house and the fence and in those small spaces where the big mower doesn’t fit.

And my little eleven year old neighbor child who desperately wants a job mowing lawns but can’t use a gas powered mower, for her safety, can mow my lawn all she wants, get a bit of change for doing so, and LOVES to push that reel mower.

As for the numbers of birds at my feeder, I have begun a planting of bushes and protective cover that will surround my feeder and I will “frame it in” with logs and let the native grasses and wild flowers grow.

This will attract birds and give them a place to duck into cover if they see a marauding cat. And because i can’t afford to buy huge amounts of birdseed I will PLANT the seeds that they love, and let the plants naturally leave their seeds in the ground below the feeder.

As for the bugs on my dog as well as the bugs in my house and yard, I use diatomaceous dust. When the fleas and ticks walk through this dust, their exoskeletons get sliced and they die. And diatomaceous dust is totally non toxic to pets and people too. See http://celestis.com.

For the mice who want to run into my basement I have stopped using poisons. Instead I use the old farmer’s trick, dishes of instant mashed potatoes or rice. Mice love this stuff, and they eat it happily. Later they succumb because they can’t belch and the rice or mashed potatoes swell up inside their bodies.

Another trick is a saucer of pop, but that needs to be replaced daily because the “fizzzz’ goes out of it and it won’t work. Sounds cruel for the mice but it surely can’t be any crueler than letting them eat poison which keeps their blood from clotting.

I have at times used “glue bars” which are also non toxic but I just can’t stand to see those mice stuck in the glue and never know what to do with them once they are caught!

My house stays cool for a long time, well into the end of May, without ever turning on the air conditioner.

Last summer I made it clear into the middle of June. The trick is to keep the blinds drawn on the sunny side of the house in the heat of the day and open the north windows at night, set a fan in the window, and bring in the cool night air.

In the morning I shut the house up and go in and out as few times as possible, keeping the cool air in the house.

I can’t do a whole lot about the disappearing bees or the farmer who plants from ditch to ditch, but at least I can do the things in my own home and my own yard to protect and preserve the environment.

These things may be small things but every little bit helps, as the saying goes, and I will try to continue to do my part in these small ways. If we all did little things, the conservation of our land might add up to a big thing!

Recycling Begins at Home

recycle and save the earthYear after year, tons of materials which are deemed garbage clog waterways, roadsides and rivers. Many of these are recyclable but unfortunately weren’t recycled.

Many people perceive that organizing a recycling center at home is such a difficult undertaking. It just takes some creativity and commitment and you’ll find that it is not really a daunting task. Even midtown homes for sale are doing it.

When you see that you are doing your part in taking care of the environment, you’ll feel better, too.

To start, here’s how:

Find a convenient area in your house, backyard, or apartment for the center. It doesn’t require much room for your recyclables. The garages, kitchen corners, storage closet, or under your kitchen sink can make good locations. Find and carefully label containers in which to store the recyclable materials.

Plastic bins or even trash cans work well for this purpose, depending on the amount of room available in your place.

Actively involve your family in this recycling process. Orient them on what products can be recycled. Show them the difference between the aluminum can bin and the tin can bin. While doing weekly chores with them, teach them to look for recyclable trash lying around the house. Encourage them to place these in their respective storage bins.

Encourage them to think of ways to reduce the amount of recycled materials that’s consumed in your home. When you go to the recycling center in your neighborhood, take them along with you so they can witness the recycling process firsthand.

Set the example at home by showing them recyclable materials can be creatively reused at home especially in organizing things. A large cardboard box can double as a compartment for their shoes, a milk carton can be used to store fish in the freezer, or a cookie can be used as a coin bank.

Make this a regular activity. When they learn that by recycling and reusing products money can be both saved and earned, they will eventually develop a thrifty and environmentally healthy habit for life.