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Be Nice to Mother Earth

Be Nice to Mother Earth

Note: Upcoming Master Gardener Public Events

Management of Fruit Trees for the Home Garden; Saturday, Feb. 3, 10-12, at Master Gardener Gary Fowler´s home orchard, 9360 Highway 49. Gary will demonstrate planting, pruning and general aspects of management. Call 533-2059 to register and for directions.

Rose Pruning and Bareroot Rose Planting Demonstration; Saturday Feb. 10, 10 a.m. Cassina Demonstration Garden, 251 S. Barretta St., Sonora. No need to register.

Are you thinkinggreen” these days? There´s much in the media about techniques to reduce our destruction of Mother Earth. From Al Gore´s book and movieInconvenient Truth” to a recent Newsweek article, here are a few ideas for your consideration.

To aid the birds and bees in their task of pollination—which ultimately creates the food we eat—reduce your use of pesticides and chemicals. About 80% of the world´s food supply is produced by these hard workers. They don´t call them busy bees for nothing.

Try cleaning with agreen” product, or use your own mixture of vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. The many chemical products we purchase contribute to indoor and outdoor pollution.

Do catalogs fill your mailbox year round? Try to get off those junk-mail lists. Imagine the use of paper products, even recycled, and the transportation costs, on a national basis.

Did your Grandmother hang out her laundry? Try line-drying your clothes for the sheer novelty of it. Start with your sheets—what a fragrance. You might love it for a change and reduce the use of your dryer. Also, we are urged to use cold water and to run only full loads.

Let´s recycle our electronic gadgets instead of dumping them in the landfill. Some manufacturers and public agencies have recycling programs. Make it your business to find out what they can do. Donating to a non-profit is another option. The computer equipment at Twain Harte schools has been patched together by public spirited citizen Mike Lamasney—a great service to his community.

Change your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents. They use about 70% less energy than regular bulbs and last 10 times longer. Work with your hardware store specialist to find the best illumination for the task. Consider connecting your electronic equipment to a power strip, which can be turned off when not in use or when you leave the house. We are consuming energy even when individual equipment is turned off.

Meat production sucks up enormous amounts of energy. As an example, it takes about 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Consider eschewing meat for a day or two a week. Become more familiar with the plethora of vegetables we have here in California. And buy local products that haven´t traveled thousands of miles to reach your dinner table.

We learn that the paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming. We should purchase paper products made from recycled paper: paper towels, paper napkins, toilet paper and facial tissues. From the National Resources Defense Council we learn that if every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones we could save 423,900 trees. Regardless of how they arrive at these impressive figures, their statements are compelling.

Do you purchase bottled water? It´s been the rage for a decade or more. Try drinking your own tap water – or filter it yourself. It takes a lot of oil to make and ship the bottles, and once they´re empty many end up in landfills or as litter.

Let´s talk about gasoline consumption. Of course we batch errands and carpool when it´s convenient. Are you ready to trade in a vehicle? Consider the many options available with hybrid engines. Additional technology is developing each year to reduce our reliance on gasoline. When you trade in your present vehicle you have several options: sell it, trade it in on the new vehicle, or donate it to a non-profit. Often the trade-in value is so little you can happily make the donation, and you´ll feel good about it!

Our local garbage collection and recycling programs can be confusing. Who collects what, and how can we reduce the waste going into the landfill? We have three separate haulers and their programs differ slightly. Contact yours for details. Cal Sierra collects in Areas 1 and 2, reaching from Kennedy Meadows to Don Pedro. Burns Refuse collects along Tuolumne Road between the Junction shopping center and Ponderosa Hills. And Moore Brothers Scavengers Inc. collects in Pine Mountain Lake (or Area 4) and along highways 120 between Moccasin and Yosemite National Park.

Tuolumne County usesBlue Bags” for free curbside recycling. This is what you can place in the bags: newspapers—tied or loose, tin and aluminum cans, glass bottles of all sizes and colors. You must check the little triangle on plastic containers—#1 is OK, # 2—all colors—is OK. No other numbers can be included. The contents of the bags are separated at the transfer station on Industrial Drive, but we understand that the entire bag may be chucked into the landfill container if there are any other items within! So follow these rules carefully. It makes a difference.

If we put into practice some or all of these ideas you and I can make a difference. Mother Earth will be grateful.

Master gardener Joan Bergsund uses the blue bag system and occasionally takes newspapers and bottles to the recycling depot on Camarge Road.