Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

"Let us a little permit nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we." ~Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Be such a man, and live such a life, that if every man were such as you, and every life a life like yours, this earth would be God's Paradise." ~Phillips Brooks

"We have probed the earth, excavated it, burned it, ripped things from it, buried things in it.... That does not fit my definition of a good tenant. If we were here on a month-to-month basis, we would have been evicted long ago." ~ Rose Elizabeth Bird

"The Earth has a skin and that skin has diseases, one of those diseases is man."
~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Nature is a labyrinth in which the very haste you move with will make you lose your way."
~Francis Bacon

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another." ~ Juvenal

Today is Earth Day! I was Ten years old in April of 1970 when Earth Day first Began. I was in the forth grade. Our home-room teacher, Mrs Christopher talked to us that day about not being litter bugs and about how we should save all of our cola bottles and return them to the store where we could at that time get a refund. Most of us were already saving cola bottles and always on the look out for a stray bottle besides. As ten year olds Bottles meant money to us and money meant candy. Soda bottles then were glass... As for the littering, Daddy made us clean up behind ourselves and others when we went camping so we were well aware about not littering. Not too much else was said to us in school about Earth day. I did hear Uncle Neal talking about it at Mr. Floyd's little store. Uncle Neal was all for it. He said it was people who were working to save the earth. Mr. Floyd thought it was a bunch of Hippies demonstrating over something silly. He said the Hippies just needed another reason to demonstrate. He couldn't see where there was a need for spending all that money on what happened to trash. Daddy didn't say what he thought either way. He just paid for our stuff and we headed on back home. There were eight of us children. We didn't throw away very much. We grew or raised most of what we ate. I remember Mama saving bread sacks and Daddy later filling them with fish for the freezer. Those same fish would be served in the brown paper bag we brought the few groceries we bought home in. Even the cloth chicken feed sacks were used to make us dresses or warm quilts. I guess you could say we were living green even though we didn't know it at the time... I guess I didn't think much about all the other aspects of being a good tenant on earth until I was much older.

I have never been a litter bug. I hate trash on the roadside and I really hate seeing it on my own dirt road. I know everyone who lives on this road.. I hope I don't see one of them tossing their trash into the woods across the road. What will be even worse is when I discover who is throwing the fast food bags up into my field of young pines. Y'all know I am going to be mad and most likely will be thought of as~ the crazy lady who lives in the first house~ from the time I catch them till I die. I won't mind the reputation if it stops them.

In the last few years I have thought more and more about the Earth and how we, as humans have poisoned her. I hate the idea of burying trash in our ground. I try every day to not put something in the land fill. I shred all paper and use it as mulch or worm bedding. I Save all aluminum to be recycled. I save all egg cartons and ask others to save theirs for me too. I put my own eggs from my chickens back into them. One of my friends gets two dozen eggs from me each week. She brings her two empty cartons back every Saturday and gets two full ones. I know it doesn't sound like much; but most egg cartons are Styrofoam and it takes a long long time for them to break down. Some people say that I'm a nut and that what I don't throw away someone else will and that the little I DO doesn't really help. I like to think that even the tiny bits I do will help and if I can get others to also do little things; then overall maybe we can make a difference.

I save all cardboard boxes~ Macaroni, cereal, and many other foods come in paper boxes~ I tear them up into small pieces. They then go into the worm bin where the worms will eat them. I know not everyone grows their own worms but you could flatten them out and put them into the paper bins at your recycle center. You could also use them for wrapping gifts. The box often gets torn into so fast that no one will care if their new socks were wrapped in a cracker box.

I save the trays produce comes in. They make great paint pallets for young children to use when doing crafts. The deeper ones can be used for sorting small items or for organizers. I wash them in hot soapy water and then use them when I peel vegetables or fruits. I also never throw any peelings away. I have chickens that love them. I have used the trays to start seedlings for my gardens. Poke a few holes in the bottom and fill with potting soil and add the seeds. You could even allow a small flowering plant to live the entire summer in a three inch deep produce tray!

I save all glass jars and bottles too. I pack my home grown peppers into vinegar in the tall thin bottles and pass them on to friends and neighbors. The small jars become nut and bolt and screw organizers out in the barn for the gazillion different tiny things I find in Dave's pockets. Who knew there were so many different nuts, bolts, screws, washers and on and on? Olive and pickle jars can be made into banks for change or even a candy jar. Fill them with tiny candies for guessing games at parties. I try to look at jars when I buy to get any I can that can be used for canning vegetables later. There aren't many things that come in a jar that a standard lid will fit. Maybe the companies should be encouraged to package things in jars that we could re-use?

I must admit I haven't actually found a good use for tin cans yet. I have a whole bunch of them saved up. I have heard of people flattening them and using them as roofs for bird houses. I have been eyeing a basket full in my laundry room and thinking that with a coat of paint and some heavy string they would make a sort of wind chime. I was thinking of slipping them one inside the other and with knots keeping them from sliding down and a bell at the end I bet they would be pretty. I already use them to give away small plants and to water chickens or birds who are separated from the flock and only needs a small water container. I have seen a tin man made from an assortment of cans and a tin funnel and hope to have one of those standing in my own garden soon!

Earth day has come a long way from when it was first envisioned by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin; in the early 1960s. Nelson worried that important environmental issues were not being addressed by the politicians of that time. He organized a nationwide grassroots demonstration in the spring of 1970, to promote conservation involvement and awareness. Support for and interest in the activity was Huge and the 1970 demonstration became the first official Earth Day. The first Earth Day helped inspire the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Each year, April 22 marks the celebration of Earth Day, which is now observed around the world by over 500 million of people in 180 countries. Many schools celebrate Earth day with special programs and celebrations. It is considered the third most activity inspiring holiday; Christmas and Halloween being the first two. There are even communities where Earth day is also a "car- free" or "car-pool only" day.

What special things will you do today to celebrate Earth day? Will you do your best to recycle something today? Maybe you can re-use something that you were thinking of throwing away? Maybe those clothes you were going to place into the trash could be delivered to a center that helps victims of fire or disaster? Maybe the toys your children have out grown can be given to s shelter for the homeless or the abused? Isn't there even the tiniest thing you could do? I think if you think about it you will see that there are many things you could do to help the Earth be a better place for our children and grand- children. Keep litter until you are at home to throw it away. Try to cut back on the use of plastics. Landfills are filling up fast and many of them will never be "clean" land again. Throw away less. Use less water. Make a compost pile for leaves..

If we each do a little it adds up to a lot! Have a great Earth Day!

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