Greening for Everyday People with Middle-Class Incomes: These are the original tips with notes; sort of rough, but you will get the clue. This is a re-blog of some information.
1. Yard waste and leaves are good mulch; there are various methods to create mulch with them. If you live by ravines as I do, you can rake them to the edge of the ravine to mulch the flowers and plants there and to help build protection against erosion. There are also many craft ideas for yard clippings and leaves including but not limited to:
a. hot gluing twigs to make trees for doll houses nad miniature scenes
b. natural wreathes
c. ornaments from leaf prints, with a stamp made from leaves or from pencil rubbings made from the leave itself, ornaments from seed pods, or dolls and small items including baskets made from woven leaves and grasses, decorated with seeds and small rocks
d. mud pie recipes and mud pies
e. mud clays
f. Luther Burbank experiments for kids who may want to pot a few wild plants, even weeds, and create a garden to observe what they do when they grow.
g. Starbucks gives away bags of coffee grounds for use by gardeners. Take them! They are really great
h. Natural pest control: I buy dried blood at Wal-Mart or local garden centers; it keeps away squirrels who love to dig and also provides good fertilizer.
2. Some annuals, like begonias, poinsettias, some violas, can be brought inside, or have cuttings taken, or coaxed into going dormant to come up again the next year.
3. Plants with fruit and edible berries can be made into recipes. Same with vegetable and herb plants. You can plant an entire victory garden, or make a container garden. Garbage cans for planting tomatoes are popular. Gourds and pumpkins do well in sunny soil and come up more than one year. There is a lot of satisfaction in using gourds, pine cones and holly from your own yard to decorate. Pine cones or gourds in a nice basket make a very nice gift for someone, and pumpkins are great in recipes, especially pumpkin soup on a cold autumn day.
4. Recycle plastic grocery bags; you can return them to the store, or you can use them to pack things, transport things; doubled they make good transport for books and are easy to handle. There are even companies that refine and spin these and other plastic items into materials for book bags, even clothing and shoes.
5. Never underestimate the power of donating and itemizing to charity. You save on your taxes and help ensure your items are not wasted and go to good use. The Salvation Army, in particular, will pick up things, but also uses parts and even broken items to provide work and repair things for other people.
6. Eat home; pay attention to leftovers and casseroles. Recipes are cheap over the Internet, and are in all kinds of magazines, including The Radish, which is given away. Look for heirloom recipes your parents had, even grandparents and great grandparents, and practice and be creative. The American Women’s Cook Book, The magazines like Everyday Food, PBS cooking shows, Mr. Food, Martha Stewart, and Julia Child are great sources to look. The Discovery Shop and thrift stores are wonderful places to look for vintage and antique cook books, so are yard sales and antique stores, library book sales, book stores and book store chains, catalogs. Many of these are on sale before they are even out of print, including Edward R. Hamilton Books and Amazon and Alibris.
7. Invest in a good library on how to books and books on going green; don’t over look free government publications and consumer reports. Many books and magazines on these subjects can also be found at library sales, and library cafes, where they cost as little as a dime. You can also recycle your old magazines by bringing back the ones you have read and do not need any more,
8. As a family hobby, review pioneer crafts including soap making and butter making. Try making jam or jelly and using canning jars. If you are lucky and have your mother’s or grandmothers’ glass fridge containers and storage boxes, check to see if they are lead free and use them.
9. If you have wedding china, are getting married and getting china, just like china, use it. Most may need to be washed by hand, but check time honored manufacturers like Palzgraf and Noritake, Johnson Brothers Stoke on Trent. They are often dishwasher save. Take them out even on non special occasions. You cans save money by rethinking dishes on supermarket stamp premiums; there are beautiful patterns including traditional Haviland and blue willow which will go on sale for one to two dollars per pieced at the end of the promotion. Look at thrift stores and estate sales; check to see newer peaces to see if they are only decorative use or dishwasher/microwave save.
10. Rethink your wardrobe. If you have time and are organized, try consignment shopping both as a place to dispose of close, but also to find them. Invest in a copy of W or vogue, or look at the new catalogs, free promotions sent to your home, or just tour the local mall. What’s in style? What’s in your closet? What do you already have? What do you like? Rotate your clothes, think what the dress code is at work; good jewelry, fine and costume, is always in style. Consider having a necklace for everyday of the week that you can wear to coordinate an outfit. Invest in good socks, splurge on a good scarf. If you knit or weave, you can create your own very nice accessories. If you crochet, the possibilities are endless and you also have gifts on hand for Christmas, Hanukah, birthdays and other occasions. If you sew, collect sewing implements, vintage and new, and take advantage of coupons and sales. Yard sales and church sales are good places to look for materials and sewing supplies. Yarn is a good investment, and there are great stores that cater to needle arts. If you read the hobby mysteries, like the Monica Ferris mysteries about the fictional store Crewel World, you will be treated to tips and patterns in every novel. Newspapers often sill include free patterns, as do online newsletters and Internet sites. Etsy.com is a wonderful place to look for craft and sewing supplies of all types.
Also, if you sew, consider remaking old garments; use the material for quilts, or make new clothes out of old ones. Old jeans make good denim skirts or handbags, jackets can become vests, dresses can be turned into mix and match tops and skirts, all can become dolls and stuffed animals, or quilts. Some can be made into strips that can be rolled into balls and woven into rugs. My mother made miniature ones by using odd socks and hose that belonged to me in junior high. She cut them into strips, and crocheted them into doll rugs. Very cute. Some old cloth and rags can become homemade paper. [Add ideas later]
Hand me downs tried and true; consider them an honor and heirloom, especially for old class vintage items like wedding apparel, shoes from the likes of Ferragamo or Gucci, good persons, antique reticules or hats.
If it isn’t’ a sentimental item or family heirloom, you can consign it or you can put it on Etsy, EBay, etc.
Clothing drives; if you have the time you can organize one for coats, mittens, etc. Keep a few items for them when you clean out closets. There are also places you can send clothing for needy children, along with knitted items, quilts, toys and blankets. Many church groups create quilts of various types to send to shelters and charities; your old clothing, materials, and artistic skills are really appreciated there.
11. Energy efficient cars, furnaces and appliances. Read the labels.
12. Turn the lights out; invest in energy efficient bulbs where possible, look for products that do not harm animals, do not contain unwarranted pesticides and chemicals.
13. Look for recipes on DIY sites and in books for cleaning materials and soaps that are natural, like vinegar. Do not use flammable materials, however.
14. Check furnaces, water heaters, and fire places regularly. If you have wood burning stoves or fireplaces, educate yourself on what woods you can burn so that the rest of the neighborhood is not polluted with smoke from your chimney.
15. Explore recycling possibilities and leaf disposal policies in your community. Read the newsletters in your utility bills for ideas. If there is a community forum or township meeting on Green issues, attend and get ideas, and contribute a few f your own if you can.
16. Make your own compost; but, educate yourself. A compost heap is not a garbage dump. Be careful not to attract animals and vermin that might infest the neighborhood.
17. Read others on the environment: Loren Eisley, Annie Dillard, MFK Fisher, Sand County Almanac, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Old Grange and Farm wives magazines, William Wordsworth and all the Romantic Poets, The Bronte Sisters, especially Emily, on the beauty of the Moors and the landscape. Even vintage Gothic novels like the Castle of Otranto emphasize the importance of environment and landscape, as well as classic architecture on society.
18. Visit historical landmarks and national parks. State parks are also valuable places to learn. If you live near the ocean, lakes, or rivers, learn the riparian lore of your community. If you really love to read and want a challenge, read Hugo Grotius, The Law of the Sea.
19. Teach children to collect fossils, shells, rocks, minerals, and petrified wood. Take them to shows to show them how these natural resources helped shape life and the earth, and explain the role fossil fuels still play in the environment.
20. Join the Scouts, boy or girl. Encourage children to get badges in various areas, including those involving nature and conservation.
21. Teach about archaeology trough magazines like Archaeology, Civilization, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. Encourage kids to collect a library of these materials, and help them to organize it. They will be constantly reading and gain a respect for earth.
22. Teach children to respect animals and wildlife. If they have a favorite stuffed animal, like an elephant, have them study elephants and thei9r evolution, their role in literature and culture, where they live. The more familiar we are with something like this, and the more we come to love it, the less likely we are to abuse it or ignore it. Do the same with human culture. Encourage children to learn bout people from around the world by having them read folk tales, literature, listening to music, participating in ethnic crafts, collecting ethnic artifacts. Folk Dolls and foreign dolls are a good way to introduce all children to different cultures. Those with their own collections should learn about them and then go on the road, offering to display and lecture on them.
23. Volunteer when you can at community cleanups, book fairs, botanical centers, museums of all types, libraries, Earth Day celebrations. Teach children not to waste, but to share and to trade where possible. See the onsite community areas for barter.
24. When re-gifting and homemade gifts are good. Teach the spirit of gift giving and holidays; commercialism has been an issue since the first Christmas. Read Christmas and holiday stories and lore to see how such greed and commercialism are combated through the last two millennia. Also, you can see how people celebrated in historical times of economic adversity like War, Depression, and famine. You might be surprised at how happy and meaningful some of these celebrations can be.
25. Weddings; tips for economical weddings. I Had a Civil ceremony and church wedding for under $2500. Tell how.
26. Coupons and sales
27. Collecting is always a great way to recycle and make use of things. Collect for art materials, store inventory, personal enrichment or investment, for children, for fun. People who collect tins, baskets, and boxes use them for storage as well. People who collect vintage pens and pencils use them and sharpen them whenever they can. People who collect buttons often use them on their clothes.
Old shoes sometimes make good flower parts, and old bowling balls make interesting garden ornaments. Victory Garden and other shows have made good use of incorporating them into garden landscape. Same for old signs, old wheelbarrows and garden implements, wooden doors and fences, statutes, old tires, old claw foot tubs, milk cans, and tractor seats. They have found new life in garden landscapes. DIY scarecrows or other scarecrows as collectibles serve dual purposes as well. For one night special occasions, luminaries from paper bags are still a great effect, especially if you use LED “fake” votives which are save and effective.
28. If your VCR still works, don’t toss it. Make use of videos.
29. The radio is still a great option, so are cassette players for those of us who still have them, so are records and turntables. Vinyl records can be valuable collectibles, but they are still affordable in various types of conditions. Or, if you play an instrument, get it out and dust it off. Pay attention to the composers, to how things are composed, see what different types of genres and music the composer has written, for what instrument. These are vocations in themselves, and interest nearly everyone. Take a survey and ask friends family, students, etc., what types of music they like, and you will find we are all amateur experts in certain types of music. Sharing that knowledge is one of they joys of everyday living.
30. Unplug it if you don’t use it.
31. Crafts; consider collage and decoupage; assemblage, sue materials you already have. Making toys and paper dolls from old clothes, socks, yarns, magazines, and papers is a time-honored tradition. Same for Christmas ornaments. Repair toys that break; we need are a regular doll hospital around here, not just for collectors toys, but for everyday toys for kids. Also, check the manufacturer, toys are under warranty, too, and Mattel and other companies have been known to repair their own toys and send them back.
32. use dishwater for plants and coffee grounds as fertilizer
33. explore local farmers markets and look for local products and grocery stores
34. lo, for local bakeries
35. Cook ahead and freeze. Become familiar with what keeps for how long. Invest in a good freezer or a good refrigerator
36. Clutter can be good
37. Let it go when you have to
38. take inventory
39. Explore home remedies after consulting with your doctors. Same with alternative remedies.
40. Question if you are given too many prescriptions; look up your medicines, read the fine print, ask about alternatives and get to know the pharmacists. Get the PDR and Grays Anatomy, the book, not the TV show. Look up HIPPAA on line and read it, review hospital policies and patients bill of rights; be assertive and proactive and take someone with you. Insist on enough time to discuss concerns and take a list. Be professional, not emotional. Don’t threaten malpractice, but think it if you have a gut feeling something is terribly wrong. Ask, ask, ask, and check physicals credentials. Educate yourself and get second and even third and fourth opinions. They aren’t magicians, just mechanics of the human body. Look up some of the medical malpractice and negligence cases on court TV and other sites; try to see what they all have in common.
41. Get the Internet; the dummy books are great tutorials, and most computers come with great directions.
42. Think about what goes in the landfill. Cut up the plastic rings that hold pop cans together. If you have time, save your pop cans not just to recycle, but to give to people who need them and want e deposit money, but don’t keep them outside. I’ve had them stolen. Also, wash them in soap and hot water and organized them before you recycle.
43. Save loose change in a giant bank. Make it a family project, especially pennies. It is a good way to save money. Eventually, the bank will take it and organize and deposit it for you. If you don’t’ need it yourself for bus fare, etc., then donate it.
44. Brew your own coffee, but don’t deny yourself either. Brown bag it, especially if there are brown bag lunch events, but eat well, try to get out, even in the parking lot on a good day, and listen to the radio, or eat at a park, take a walk, ride your bike at lunch, skate. Eat out as a social event, or spend a few minutes having soup at a bookstore cafe or library cafe and browse the books. You don’t have to buy and can write down titles for future reference
45. Grow some chicory to put into your brewed coffee.
46. Take classes, finds something that interests you. There are free classes on the Internet, including free BBC language classed, but look to local colleges and community centers and groups like CommUniversity.org and Elderhostel. Never stop learning, and never stop growing, and you will never be bored. Libraries and craft/hobby groups are also great places to take seminars and publications like The River City Reader offer opportunities. Also check local park boards, and music stores for taking lessons on musical instruments.
47. Use scrap paper over as notes, create notepads, and use old announcements as wrapping paper, use newspaper, brown paper, and old fabric as wrapping paper. Also, use the backs of old announcements for community events as stationary. I once saw original manuscripts by Byron, Wordsworth, Keats, and others at an exhibit in the Chicago Historical Society. All these great writers wrote on scrap paper and along margins, in-between lines, up and down the page, etc. They knew how to conserve. Lets’ not forget Kathy of Wuthering Heights who kept her journal in the margins of her old bible.
48. Or, reduce junk mail. Check with your post office and various websites.
49. Get a library card and use it.
50. Have a doodle journal
51. Make your own binders of materials and topics that interest you. Three ring binders are great thrift shop finds and also go on sale at office supply stores and giant discount stores.
52. Avoid fast food, but if you like it, be aware of calories and nutrition. They provide this information themselves and on their websites, and there are books that count calories in fast food. Know the nutritious choices or take home your entrée and combine with healthy food like fruit and celery sticks.
53. Be patient and be spiritual, whatever that means to you.
54. Go to art fairs and craft fairs to become inspired.
Books and sources:
My book on Pym
My book guide
My dress for success guide
Collecting Dolls under $50.00
Harold bloom on romantic literature and poetry
Walden by Thoreau
Jacques Pepin on fast food
Books by Pam and Polly Judd, Lane Herron, Loretta Holtz, Catherine Christopher, Mary Hillier, Evelyn Chisholm,
Mary Englebreit’s publications
House of White Birches doll and craft magazines
McCall’s needlework and Crafts
Vintage craft patterns
Anthropology and Archaeology texts
Gems and Minerals
All doll books
Martha Stewart on Sirius
Everyday Food on PBS and radio
Martha Stewart TV shows and local TV home segments
Reruns of Gary Collins and the Home Show where you can find them.
White House Cook book
DIY TV and site
Diane Mott Davidson
Books on Earth Day
Craft magazines and books
Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of crafts
Flea Market Find and Country Collectibles
Doring Kindersley books; great visual guides and informative websites.
Art from Found materials, especially dolls
Scrapbooks and collage, especially from vintage and found objects
Butterick and pattern companies
Singer Sewing machine manuals
Coats and Clark Patterns and publications
Godey’s and Petersen’s magazines
Harper's Magazine, old editions
Puzzles and crosswords online, can make your own and put them in a binder for a gift; don’t’ have to buy them
The Book Thing .com
In Flagrante Collecto
Mary Randolph Carter American Junk books and her site; awesome.
Hints from Heloise
Judith Wax; Starting in the Middle
Fastfood Calorie Counters
Dennison party books
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