So I guess today is Earth Day. I don’t mean that to sound like I am making light of it; it just isn’t something I pay a lot of attention to.
When you are a homesteader, taking care of the earth and environment is always in the back of your your mind. Everything you do can have benefits or consequences, all year round.
Keeping it Clean
For example, many self-sufficient types make their own household cleaners. Home made cleaning products are usually safer for the environment (especially the one you are currently living in) and they are typically big money savers as well. (One of these days I WILL make my own laundry soap!) Making your own also reduces packaging and shipping, both of which contribute to pollution in one way or another. You know all those chemicals end up in the water table, and that alone is a bad thing.
I was just thinking about this fact this morning as I considered the free trial deal from The Honest Company. You pay them $6 for shipping and you get a bunch of sample products and a 7-day free trial in their subscription program. This gets you monthly deliveries of their environmentally safe cleaning (or whatever) products. I was all ready to sign up when I realized, I can make much of that stuff myself, won’t have to pay the expensive subscription price and won’t have to wait to have it shipped.
Now I have two new books on my Wish List: DIY Natural Household Cleaners: How to make Your Own Cleaners… Naturally by Matt and Betsy Jabs, and The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier. I can certainly find plenty of recipes online, but you can never have too many books. 😉
The Soil Is Alive!
Another area where people with a homestead mentality protect the Earth is through the garden. Here, we very literally protect the earth that is right beneath our feet. After all, if we take care of it, it will take care of us, right? That’s why gardening organically is so important.
The soil is a living community and if you could get down to teeny-tiny level you would be surprised at all the life there. Assuming you are looking at healthy soil. The problem today is, soil is being killed every day. That may sound dramatic, but it is true. Today, gardening seems to be all about that perfect bug-free, weed-free symmetrical garden that grace the cover of any home and garden magazine. But here’s the thing: looks can be deceiving.
Sure, you can add lots of chemicals to produce big plants with less work, but eventually, you’ll have to add more and more, stronger and more toxic chemicals. Why? Because the pests and diseases have become immune. Now they are stronger. You can see this in the case of “superbugs” and antibiotic use. The more you use, the more you need to be almost as effective. Eventually you get something so terrible, nothing you can take will cure it.
When you support the life in the soil, right down to the microscopic level, you are building a system that is self sustaining. Worms, bacteria, fungus, etc. are all vital to the life of the soil, and in turn, to the life of your plants. They all work together. Let the natural eco-system work and you won’t have to work as much.
And here is another little secret: Not all bugs are bad. Don’t try to kill everything that moves in your garden. Sure, there will be a few things that want to munch on your plants, but there will also be predators that munch on those things. It is all about balance. If you see a major imbalance, there is a problem with the soil’s health. If you build healthy soil by eliminating chemicals, adding compost and other organic matter, using natural fertilizers and amendments, and just treating the soil with respect, you will grow healthy plants. If you have healthy plants, you will see fewer pests because pests go after the weak (much like illnesses in humans).
Genetically modified plants are created to kill. It may be diseases and it often is insects. But do you really want to eat something that has the pesticides built right in? Seems like a recipe for disaster to me.
I could go on and on and will probably go into more detail in the future on each of these points, but the one thing I ask of you this Earth Day is to think about how you can eliminate toxic chemicals from your garden and home. You will save money, protect your own health, and help create a healthier planet overall.