Friday, December 13, 2013
Meredith Wood-Masteka and her husband care about the environment.
Judy Berk believes in big steps – a home solar energy system – and small – using old tree stumps to grow oyster mushrooms. Meredith Wood-Masteka is considering worm composting, and Joe Walsh advocates green cleaning solutions.
Emmie Theberge of Augusta uses worm composting to recycle food scraps in her small apartment kitchen. The compost created can go in a garden.
IDEAS FOR GREENER PEST CONTROL
HERE ARE SOME environmentally friendly tips for managing pests in your yard and garden from the Natural Resources Council of Maine:
Pour a line of cream of tartar or sprinkle red chili, paprika or dried peppermint where the ants enter the house. Soak paper towels in solution of 2 tablespoons boric acid, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 cup water. Place on dishes; set out for ants. Keep away from children and pets.
FLEA AND TICK REPELLENT
Scatter pine needles, fennel, rue or rosemary on pet's bed.
Feed pet brewer's yeast, vitamin B or garlic tablets.
INSECT SPRAY FOR PLANTS
Blend 6 cloves crushed garlic, 1 minced onion, 1 tablespoon dried hot pepper and 1 tablespoon pure soap in 1 gallon hot water. Let sit 1 to 2 days. Strain; put in a pump spray bottle.
Sew dried lavender or cedar chips into small cloth bags. Place in closets and drawers.
Set out a dish of equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar, oatmeal flour and Plaster of Paris, or borax and brown sugar. Keep away from children and pets. To repel roaches, place bay leaves around cracks in room.
SNAIL AND SLUG KILLER
Fill shallow pan with stale beer and place in infested area.
Lay boards or clay flower pots between rows of vegetables; snails will often attach themselves and can be collected.
Add lime or wood ashes to soil to raise pH level.
TO LEARN MORE about the Portland chapter of the Holistic Moms Network, go to portlandme.holisticmoms.org. To get to the HMN Facebook page, go to facebook.com/#!/HMNPortlandME
TO READ ABOUT environmentally friendly products for the home, go togreenhomesofmaine.com
But they both work full time and have two children, so running a completely Earth-friendly household can be a challenge.
Still, they do what they can. They both drive older cars. They go to local farmers' markets so they can buy fresh foods that haven't traveled 500 miles to get here. This year, they'll be growing some of their own food in raised beds.
The couple shops at secondhand stores for children's clothing, and stocks up on children's books at summer library sales.
Instead of upgrading to a larger home in the suburbs, they have stayed in a smaller home in Portland. It's cheaper to heat, and they don't have a long commute to their jobs. They use a green cleaning service to clean their home so they aren't exposed to toxic chemicals.
Sometimes, they have to make compromises. Wood-Masteka would like to use cloth diapers, "but I just don't quite have the energy to do it."
"I'm still using disposable, but at least they don't have bleach and they're chlorine-free," she said. "So it's a bit of a baby step. Whether it be from a financial standpoint or a time standpoint, if you can't go all the way, it doesn't mean you can't do something."
Today is Earth Day, and lots of families will be thinking about ways they could make their lives a little more environmentally friendly.
The steps that make the biggest difference are actions that revolve around transportation and energy, says Judy Berk of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. That means walking, carpooling or biking to work instead of driving. Or making your house more energy efficient.
But if you don't have the money right now to do a major energy overhaul, there are lots of smaller things people can do around the house to make a change and shift their way of living.
Joe Walsh, owner of Green Clean Maine, a cleaning business that uses only environmentally friendly cleaners, said there's "just more and more demand all the time."
Walsh said his business has been growing 50 percent year over year. Most of his customers just don't have the time to do the cleaning themselves, he said, but when he goes into homes to do an estimate, he finds people are much more educated about the issues than they used to be.
"More and more people are coming to me already educated about the dangers of traditional cleaning products and the benefits of cleaning without them," he said. "I've been impressed by that."
Earlier this month, Walsh was asked to speak at a meeting of the Holistic Moms Network. The Portland chapter, one of 120 chapters across the country, started two years ago and has 22 members. New members arrive every month to their meetings, where they invite experts to talk about different topics on holistic health or "green living."
Julie Wagner, who leads the group, says everyone in the group is on their own path, "but everybody is interested in changing up their life and taking small steps toward a greener lifestyle."
"If you think overall about holistic living or living green, it can be really, really overwhelming to think about that perfect place, whatever that might be, because it's different for every person," Wagner said. "I only have two children. My friend has five. So what she expects in her house and her family, and how she expects to live green is different than what I expect about how to live green.
"We make different choices. And I think that's the key to what Holistic Moms is about. It's about making baby steps, because when you make those small changes, they're easier to hang onto. They're more manageable."
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click image to enlarge
Joe Walsh, owner of Green Clean Maine, cleans a mirror at a meeting of the Holistic Moms Network in April. Erin Moulton of Windham assists with the demonstration. Walsh uses only environmentally friendly cleaners in his business.