Love your Mother: Saint Joseph’s resident environmentalists offer 10 tips for living green here on Earth

Darrin Ramsdell

1.) Turn off anything that is not in use; especially computers. Most energy used by computers goes into running the monitor, so turn off the monitor or make sure it will go into sleep mode if you're away from the computer for awhile.

2.) Support local farmers. Produce from other states requires a lot of fossil fuel to transport.
• Instead of buying from the supermarket, buy from a local public/farmer's market when possible.
• Ask restaurants, public schools, colleges, hospitals and/or office cafeterias to carry food grown by local farmers.

3.) Drive smart. Aggressive driving(speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.
• Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph; assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 21 cents per gallon for gas.
• Using cruise control on the highway will save gas in most cases.
• Avoid excess idling; idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle.
• If your transmission comes with overdrive, you can make a huge improvement in your highway mileage by using the overdrive gear, which allows your engine to spin more slowly at cruising speeds

4.) Hanging clothes to dry saves money and energy that would be consumed by the dryer.

5.) Turn down the thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. A 3-degree difference will not be noticeable.

Chemistry professor Dr. Jeanne Gulnick, Environmental Awareness Committee chair, offers more tips:

6.)Studies show that the most effective way of instilling an environmental ethic in children is not preaching to them to turn the lights off, but rather developing a love and connection to the outdoors. Go to the beach, the mountains, lakes, streams and even mud puddles! Get outside (in all weather - there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing)! Feel the wind, the sunshine, the rain on your cheeks, the mud under your shoes. "Going green" means connecting with the earth and your natural environment.

7.)Use non-toxic cleaning products. A dilute solution of white vinegar in water can be used to wash your windows, floors and much, much more.

8.) Buy second-hand, when you can. You still get the novelty of new things with less impact on natural resources.

Two more tips from Saint Joseph's College Magazine editor, Charmaine Daniels:

9.) Get local produce through Community-Supported Agriculture projects, or CSAs. Here's how it works: You sign up with a local farm to receive produce for a growing season, paying for your ‘share' of the yield up front or in a series of installments. In return you get fresh, organic vegetables and fruit delivered to your front door (or a nearby drop-off point) every week. Unlike most food in your supermarket, your CSA produce won't travel an average of over 2,000 miles to reach your plate.

Participating in a CSA is a way to get chemical-free, fresh food directly from the people who grew it - often on the day they picked it. Spring is the time to join a CSA for the upcoming growing season, so contact a farm soon. You can request a print-out of CSA farms in your region by calling Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc. at 800-516-7797, or visit their web site at www.biodynamics.com/csa.html.

10.) Buy green electricity through Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), an interfaith ministry devoted to deepening the connection between ecology and faith. The organization operates in many states. Maine Interfaith Power and Light, for example, offers consumers access to electricity generated from renewable, clean resources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power (www.meipl.org).

The IPL program, which began in 1998, promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. The goal is to help people of faith recognize and fulfill their responsibility for the stewardship of creation, and eventually, Interfaith Power and Light hopes to establish programs in every state. To find out if there is an Interfaith Power and Light program in your state, go to: www.theregenerationproject.org/ipl/index.html

About gardening:

http://gardening.about.com/
About Gardening provides a treasure trove of tips, hint, and tricks for all sorts of gardening. The site also allows gardeners to create online communities in which they can share questions and provide answers on particular topics.

USDA plant hardiness zone map:

www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/
Do you love palm trees, but aren't sure if they'll grow in your back yard? This site will tell you the lowest average temperature in which a landscaping plant will survive.

Calendar of gardening events:

www.gardencalendar.com/
Planning a vacation? Want to see what gardening-related events are happening in your area? Check out this web site to search for events by date and geographic area.

Cooperative Extension offices

www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html
If you have a question about gardening, odds are that your local Extension office can answer it! Click on your state to find the nearest Extension office.

Starting seeds indoors:

www.gardenweb.com/sesbania/startsds.html
If you live in a place where the winters are long, you may want to give your garden a nudge by starting your seeds indoors. This site provides an excellent how-to on this method of bringing spring before Mother Nature does.

The Japanese garden:

http://academic.bowdoin.edu/zen/
If you're interested in the beauty and serenity of Japanese gardens, this is the site for you. Learn more about their history, and take a photo tour of many gardens in the Kyoto area.

Square foot gardening:

www.squarefootgardening.com/
Do you want to grow your own veggies, but have a back yard the size of a postage stamp? Are you an apartment dweller with a tiny patio or balcony? Mel Bartholomew, creator of the square foot gardening concept, explains how you can grow an astonishing amount of food or flowers in one square foot of space.

Organizing a community garden:

www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/food4me/4300.htm
Gardening is not necessarily a solitary pursuit; many gardeners have discovered the fun of community gardening. Community gardening takes many forms, from providing people with garden plots to help them feed their families, to beautifying neighborhoods, to growing food for the homeless. This site provides practical tips for organizing different types of community gardening projects.

National Gardening Association:

www.garden.org/home
The National Gardening Association, created in 1973, provides this web site as a resource for all types of gardening questions and issues. A special subsection of the site promotes ways in which parents can use gardening to help their children make fun discoveries about the natural world around them.

Gardening web site list and annotations by Saint Joseph's College librarian Natalie Hutchinson.