Twenty Ways to be Green

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI care deeply about the environment and have always been a tender of plants, a user of herbs, and a lover of green spaces. But now these things are no longer enough. I write eco-poetry some of the time, and my most recent book, The Five Petals of Elderflower, has many of these poems, as the main theme is our relationship with nature.

I wanted to explain what else I am doing now, to help the human race survive, at a time when we are ringing our own death knell. We all need to do our bit, and the actions will differ from person to person, depending on budget, time and so on.

What we do to be green in our family:

  1. We have solar panels on the roof. This was an initial investment but in terms of the planet, a small amount to help convert to green energy.
  2. We keep bees. We don’t sell the honey, though my husband does draw some down and we share it with family and friends. The bees are more like pets.
  3. We went down to one car and try to use public transport where possible, or share lifts.
  4. We try to walk whenever possible. It’s too easy to jump in the car when the journey is very local. Fresh air and exercise are benefits, as is enjoying local green spaces.
  5. We recycle all we can, and have a system in the house that fits in with our excellent local recycling scheme.
  6. We reuse and re-purpose what we can, particularly cloth, plastic and glass, boxes and paper items.
  7. We buy fewer clothes than we used to, choosing natural fabrics which last longer and have less impact on the planet, from sustainable sources. I mend and alter clothes, and when they no longer work for me they are donated to charity shops, or clothes skips, never ever in the bin.
  8. We garden organically and share produce with friends, family and neighbours.
  9. We have cut down on flights, though we still want to travel. We avoid large cruises as they are damaging to the seas and the places they visit.
  10. We rarely waste food, cook meals from fresh natural ingredients, forage for wild food, but never take it all. We are not vegan or vegetarian, but often eat vegetarian, and do not consume large quantities of meat. We do eat cheese but support small local businesses who produce unpasteurised cheese made the old-fashioned way.
  11. We have swapped most of our bulbs to energy-efficient ones, and remember to keep lights switched off as much as possible.
  12. Given the right weather conditions, hanging washing outside saves electricity and makes them smell wonderful.
  13. All year round we put food out for the birds and other wildlife, and make our garden nature-friendly with bird boxes, bat boxes and so on. Our mature trees make the space attractive to birds and squirrels, and we also have a fish-pond which is a haven for newts and a big hit with mating frogs.
  14. We have a herb garden and use it extensively for cooking, herbs and lavender products like lavender bags, which I make myself.
  15. As far as possible, we use online banking, email receipts and avoid printing out documents, to run a paperless ‘office’.
  16. We make Christmas presents, such as knitted garments, notebooks, soaps. massage bars, small textile gifts, collages and art pieces, food items etc. We do buy gifts too, but are careful not to add to people’s clutter. Vouchers can be appreciated, for example.
  17. We are clearing our own clutter by giving things away to people who can use them, or charity shops.
  18. Apart from essentials like socks and underwear, we wear our clothes until they actually need washing, so avoiding unnecessary wash loads.
  19. We use handkerchiefs rather than tissues, and have swapped back to using dusters made from rags, rather than wipes which include plastic. We use cotton dishcloths which can be washed and reused.
  20. We avoid food which include palm oil, the production of this is causing destruction of the rain forests the planet needs to breathe.

I am aware we could do a lot more, and would appreciate any tips in the comments. I continue to use my poetry as a vehicle for appreciating and informing readers about the importance of our environment. I will share one such poem with you. It was first published in The High Window, so I will include the link here:

The High Window Journal: Issue 1 Spring 2016

The poem I mean is called ‘Salgados Wetlands’, which is the first poem on the link. It may well be in my next book.

Angela Topping

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