Monday, January 25, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow

I've always been envious of people who knew how to garden. I remember the first time I tried to grow plants from seeds, and failed. Then I figured, well maybe I'll try from a starter still died.

For many years I became known to my friends as the person to kill or pull out unwanted items in the yard. Cutting, trimming, removal, mowing...totally had that down; trying to produce life form from plants.... C-.

When I first moved to Waikoloa I knew I wanted to attempt a garden. I live on approximately a quarter acre of land, and although its dry here, the warm weather lends to being able to plant year round.

I went through a few trials and error. I learned that I'm not that good at planting seeds directly into the ground. I began planting seeds into starter pots. I've used both regular plastic ones (I reuse pots from plants I've bought from the store, jiffy biodegradeble pots, and made my own from newspaper. Using starter pots as been the most successful process for me. I found that due to the dry weather and soil conditions the plants need a strong root base before planting into the ground.

My first plants were bought from the store, and I make sure to speak to someone who's knowledgeable about plants. Since I'm still in my learning phase I'm not sure about the needs of certain plants. I also want to make sure that I'm using plants which don't need a lot of water and withstand the lack of rain fall (Waikoloa averages 4 inches a year).

Gardening has become a sense of pride for me. Something that I use to fear, and envy, is now an accomplishment. I soon will have fresh tomatoes, green beans, various herbs, and much more. I don't use any fertilizers or pesticides, and have a calming feeling about eating fresh, very local, chemical free produce.

So, even if you don't have a huge yard, or think you don't have a green thumb, think again. Start a herb garden, they also double as great home decor. I was even able to plant tomatoes in a large pot, and they have great products to grow tomatoes in small spaces.

Get out your Green Thumb, and start growing. Happy Planting!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Painting Without the Pains

Indoor air is typically more polluted than outdoor air; paints and finishes being one of the leading causes. Regular paint contains VOC, Volatile Organic Compound. What is VOC? VOC are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressure under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere, and are harmful and toxic. VOC is what your nose detects when you're painting a room.

I love to change the look and feel of my own, and when first venturing on being green I was disappointed to discover the harmful affects of paint. When I first heard of non-VOC paint, I knew I wanted some. The problem at the time....cost! The first time I saw Non-VOC paint at Home Depot it cost approximately $38/gallon. Compared to $19 for a regular gallon of paint, and a thin budget I had to put the decorating bug to bed.

Recently, as more people are becoming earth conscious the prices are dropping considerably. More companies are coming out with one or more Non-VOC or Low-VOC varieties of paint. Don't think that just cause its green that your color choices are limited. New styles are emerging each year, and I was finally able to bring out the paint rollers.

I purchased Olympic Non-VOC paint at Lowes for only $20. They had a vast choice of color and I was pleased with the outcome. For the first time I was able to paint without getting a headache, no mask needed, and didn't care if the windows were open or closed.

So get creative, get painting, and get a good night sleep without breathing in toxic fumes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hawai'i Has the Goods on Events

I love Hawai'i, from the beaches, the weather, to the beloved family parties. As much as I love the huge family gatherings it pains me to see all the paper plates, disposable utensils, and numerous unsustainable items being thrown in the rubbish. Granted its hard to through parties for hundreds of people when on a "limited" budget, and until the price of biodegradable products comes down; I'm afraid this trend will continue.

While researching I found that the county of Hawai'i offers free green event planning tips. The county of Hawai'i will provide H-5 beverage container recycle bins free of charge. You can reserve bins for your party so your guests know where to throw their recyclable containers. Free bins, and you get to profit from turning in 100s of cans and bottles. Visit the Hawai'i Department of Environmental Management website for the reservation forms for your next party. If you don't live in Hawai'i check your county's Waste Management website for recycle information and tips.

Here's a few tips you can follow to help green your next event:
*Send an E-Vite: I love this site! A nice quick way to email your invitees, keep track of who's coming, add voter boxes, and lists on what to bring. Save on paper and send an electronic invitation.

*If you the party is small enough use real dinnerware. I know its easy to go the paper plate route, but real dinnerware not only looks better, it saves on trees.

*Save your hands and use your dishwasher (if you have one). A misconception is that hand washing dishing is more environmentally friendly. In fact your dishwasher uses less water than hand washing. Dishwashers use 5.8 gallons of water, when rinsing dishes alone takes 20 gallons of water. So scrape, don't rinse, and save your hands and let the machine do the work.

*Compost your scraps: Bury your waste. You can compost veggies, fruits, and egg shells. No dairy or meat products. Burying your waste creates great soil for gardening and reducing waste in the landfills.

*Get a Brita water filter! Come on people, the amount of plastic bottles that end up in the landfill, which then end up in the ocean is ridiculous! Plus, there are more regulations for county water than there are on bottled water companies. This will not only save waste, but save your green.

*Smile and have a blast! Hey a great attitude is also great for the planet. Happiness is infectious, so make it a great party!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Its the Little Things

I recently started a new job (woohoo!) at the Fairmont Orchid in Hawai'i. On my first day I was glad to hear that I will be a part of their Green Committee. I'm not sure what that exactly entails, but am looking forward to learning and contributing.

There were little things I noticed at the resort which add up to huge savings on the earth! Its the first office I've been in where there were actually designated recycling boxes for paper. This seems like a small task, but considering its the first time I've seen it...its a big plus.

Another great find was in the restroom. Instead of paper towels, the hotel provides actual cloth towels. It was beautiful! Can you imagine how much paper they are saving by having fresh towels in the restrooms. If all hotels did this, it would add up. Kudos to the Fairmont Orchid!