ColGlobe At The Spoof

Monday, January 19, 2009

Go Green to Save Green

I've said it before, and I'll likely say it again many times. We have all got to start paying more attention to what we use and how we use it. The word is CONSERVE. The clue is to REUSE. The choice is not going to be available much longer.

But you can also save a little green by going green. As an example, let's say that you like tomatoes. Did you know that growing two tomato plants can feed the veggie-like fruit to your family for several months, and cost about the same as buying a single large tomato? Or that a fishing license and basic fishing gear have about the same pricetag as buying fresh fish at the market? Did you know that by spreading your lawn cuttings out thinly and evenly on your lawn can reduce the amount of nutrients you must supply to it, AND they'll help hold in moisture so that you can water less?

There are a number of fruits and vegetables that can be grown in pots or flower beds. Tomatoes are excellent potted plants, if carefully pruned, but can also be grown as a climbing vine. In fact, tomato, cucumber, yellow squash, and canteloupe can all be grown on a trellis. Other types of gourds, such as acorn squash, can be grown in a flower bed. A single plum tree will provide more plums than a family can eat in a blooming season. And the price for veggetable and fruit seeds is very low. You can feast for a summer for the cost of buying the ingredients of one deluxe table salad. Onions, peppers, and many types of spices can be grown in pots or planters. And your fence becomes a truly effective hedge when you plant blackberry or other thorny fruit bushes along it. The thorns dissuade trespassing through the thicket, and they'll provide an abundant source of vitamin C for about a month out of the year- longer, if you care to make jams and jellies, pickles and salsas.

Veggies are great, but you'd rather have meat in your diet? If you live within city limits, this can be a problem, but the odds are very good that you can find a private meat packing house within an hour's drive. You'll find that these places offer better deals than you can get in your local chain grocer, and it may sound strange, but the meant will TASTE better. Commercially raised livestock is treated and fed differently than the way the same animals would be treated on a farm, and the result is a leaner, more flavorful cut of meat. If you happen to live on the outskirts of town, you may be allowed by local law to grow some of your own meat, in the form of chickens, rabbits, or even a goat. A goat makes especially good sense, as it can also be used for most household vegetable waste disposal, and to cut and fertilize your lawn. Of course, if you raise any of these meat animals, you'll probably still have to find that area packing house, but you'll still find that you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year over conventinal grocery shopping. You'll only think you can't eat an animal you raised yourself until the first couple of bites. Humans have been raising and eating animals for thousands of years and, after all, it's the idea of NOT raising your own food that is recently developed.

Go fishing. You don't need thousands of dollars of expensive gear, either. The fish are not impressed any more by being caught on a brand new $300 rig, than with a 5 year old Zebco 33. Are you fishing to play the "look at me" game, or are you trying to save money by putting food on the table and in the freezer? If you're going to use the millenia-old bait, you can keep a worm bed at home, they're very easy to maintain, and the one-time purchase of a tub of live worms can last you for months, or years. If you really want to go the recycle route, walk along the banks of where you fish, and gather hooks and floats and sinkers for later use.

So let's look at this. We've grown the veggies, and fed the greens and leavings to our rabbits, and used the refuse from the rabbits mixed with plain black dirt to grow our fish bait, which in turn gives us excellent fertilizer for our planting beds. True, each step has an inherent cost, but the overall total is the savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars over buying the exact same foods in the market. And now, instead of being a dead-end point at the top of a food pyramid, we've become the coordinating center of a cycle that goes around for as long as we wish to keep it going. And the food will all be more flavorful, with a better texture and density.

And what have you saved? Well, there's the cost of the foods themselves, but only by a small margin. If you have a particularly green thumb or lucky hook, you may be able to sell or trade with friends or relatives for something they have an excess of. Bartering allows the distribution of items that would otherwise literally become waste. If you have a really green thumb, you can find a farmer's market in your area to rent a stall, or sell to an existing distributor. But you've also saved fuel, electricity, water, and chemical use, multiplied over EVERY item you have produced yourself. If you are lucky enough to live in a location where a yard goat is an option, you have even provided better lawn care without adding chemicals or using any type of conventional power. And you get to eat the lawnmower!! A small goat will cost LESS than a riding mower, and where the machine continually depreciates, the value of a goat increases as it grows and fattens.

Which part of the equation are we all having a problem with? The part where we come out ahead, or the part where we do less harm to the planet?

ColGlobe Productions

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