Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope all of my friends out there, and you strangers too, have the time to sit and relax with your fam and friends today! Take some time to be thankful for what you have, and forget about what you don't have. And remember, Friday is BUY NOTHING DAY. There are plenty more ways to please those closest to you than becoming one of the teeming mob, swiping plastic to fulfill some imagined need.

So what will I be doing on Thanksgiving? I will be working, but I have turkey and taters in the crock pot, and will have my dinner one way or the other! And what about Friday? I plan on going to a Wildlife Refuge and simply BEING.

Composting, our most recent project.

Approximately two weeks ago we decided we were completely and utterly fed up with throwing out unused bits of produce as well as spoiled food. I have been buying more and more fresh produce in an effort to work more whole foods into our diets and the amount of unused bits was particularly annoying to me, let alone the appearance of the occasional spoiled veggie. We had looked into composting before, but for one reason or another we always held off actually starting a bin. We were apartment dwellers, where would we put the thing? and what about the smell? and then what do you do with the stuff once you've got it?

Armed with his internet savvy, Gareth found some pretty helpful websites while I scooted on over to the library and peeked into some older books on gardening. We learned that a compost PILE doesn't have to be huge, or smelly. And better yet, you can actually compost things like paper and hair! Wow!

Here are some links that we found useful:

WikiHow - How to Compost Safely
StopWaste.org - Build your own Bin

While most of the plans from StopWaste.org are pretty simple, we opted to purchase a large, clear plastic bin to house our compost. Per the recommendations from WikiHow, we drilled holes in the sides and bottom of the container and layered the material we had been gathering, watering it all down and putting the lid on (which is by no means tight-fitting). We also placed clean, reused plastic trays (you know, the ones the sushi from the grocery comes in?) under the bin to collect the "tea" made from the water as it percolates through the organic matter. This is reportedly a good fertilizer for plants, and if nothing else, you can reuse it to moisten the compost.

As for the smell, it kinda smells like onions and licorice! I am responsible for the onions, but I have no idea where the licorice comes in! And you really have to stick your head in there to smell it. Anyway, if you don't put any meat or oil or fat in your bin, you shouldn't have any problem with odor (not to mention raccoons, rats and crows, oh my)! I even go so far as to rinse my eggshells.

The only bothersome part of our bin setup is that, while keeping the compost in an aerobic state fends off odoriferous bacteria, it attracts fruit flies. We would recommend keeping the bin away from the house, if possible. However, it is also prudent to keep it in the shade. For us, that means on the porch, next to the door! So I just have to run out, stir things up and then wait for it all to settle before I sneak back inside!

And going back to the problem of using up all that heavenly humus, our desire to compost also happened to coincide with my desire to grow my own veggies (its either that or find a better source of produce! sheesh). Stay tuned for more on that project--its still in the planning and daydreaming stage, although I certainly have plenty of containers to start things off right!

The little things...

With my past tucked into my back pocket and my eye on the future I can see how far I have come in my goal to be a more ecologically responsible person. In small steps, a bit at a time, I have reworked my habits and behaviors so that now being "green" more naturally, and I am always looking for ways to improve.

Small though they were, I am proud of those steps I have taken. Where once I would quietly curse myself for never remembering to bring my canvas totes with me to the grocery, now I find myself carrying them everywhere, triumphantly declaring "no thanks, brought my own" to every query "paper or plastic?"

There was a time when I would pout and discard those less popularly-numbered plastics, thinking "what a shame the seven is not recycled here." Now I find myself jealously hoarding every container and bag that comes my way, dreaming up new ways to reuse them. Thinking back on it now, it is surprising that it was not innate to gather those unwanted plastic containers, for my mom was notorious for reusing all manner of tubs, buckets and lidded cups. I suppose it only goes to show that some things one has to learn the "hard way," ie: on one's own.

Of course, my husband is with me every step of the way! We put our two heads together and come up with some new and interesting ways to get around making more waste, to get the most out of those things that we absolutely must throw away at some point, from rewetting markers to hanging half-used paper towels out to dry (before we realised we could simply use cloth towels and rags exclusively).

Proud as we are of our small victories, we vow to not allow ourselves to become complacent and stop moving forward with this, our most precious personal goal. We are always looking for new ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse. Thus this blog was sprouted, out of need for communication with like-minded individuals.

And so we offer up helpful answers, tips and what we hope will be interesting, if not also helpful, personal anecdotes on the challenges and triumphs of us two "greenies"

From seed to sprout...

I like to say that I have always had an interest in, if not an unerring passion for, the environment. Of course, "always" is a stretch--asking at what age children become the person they will be for the rest of their lives is like ignoring the concept the dynamic person altogether. I do recall several events in my sixth year of schooling that strike me as pivotal in shaping my passion for our planet.

Certainly the value of a parent's efforts to raise and nurture a child cannot be understated here--my parents were clean, thrifty folks who always recycled, even hoarded scrap metal. My dad was resourceful, my mom creative, and it was their example I followed. However, I remember a particular teacher from school who was very passionate herself, and whose dedication to my learning I consider to be pivotal in shaping my eco-conscious into what it is today.

In sixth grade I cried alot. I was in my second year as a student in the gifted program. I made straight A's, and few but good friends. I was becoming truly self-aware. I assume it scared my parents, my frequent bouts of deep sadness. Likely they thought the bullies were at it again, and to be honest, for a time I wasn't quite sure why I would cry.

My favorite class by far was my gifted class, my favorite place the classroom itself, which was unique in that it was situated in a small, plain, white trailer at the edge of the play yard. There were two other trailers nearby but I never knew what they were for--ours was super-special. A computer (rare in those days) blinked and blipped in the corner, our favorite quiz bowl games at hand on 5-inch floppies. We had board games, trivia, puzzles, and of course, chess.

But class was not all games. Our teacher, bless her heart for I cannot remember her name no matter how hard I try, utilized as many resources as she could to teach us about the world around us. We learned economics, politics, and ecology. We learned through videos, interactive lessons, computer programs, games, and field trips.

Those trips were the most influential of my young life. We went to gather trash on the beach, we walked through the marshes of the Low Country, and back at our trailer we staged oil spills on a miniature scale, pouring over our aluminum baking pans in teams, trying to come up with new clean up techniques.

Becoming aware of the local ecology and hearing the warnings and seeing the damage already done, I cried. The bullies and the stress associated with school were the same, they were constants, and after so many years, they were barely worth my notice. But as I became aware of the natural world around me, I cried. When I recognized this awareness as the source of my sadness, I stopped crying, and started listening. And thinking.

the first draft...

Something of a test--its been a long time since I have blogged. I have a journal on DA with all my art related rants, a blog on myspace with all my work/friend related blurbs...but I really don't get too excited to update them.

I am however embarking on a new project that promises to be a real rewarding (if not time consuming) task which I feel warrants documentation in an arena that my fam and friends may easily access--I want to start my own veggie garden, in containers!

Stay tuned...