Spring Sustainability Challenge: Home Refresh
In the Midwest, winter can linger longer than one would consider civilized, so when the crocus peek their purple heads above the snow, I get really excited. The first signs that the hibernation months are winding down can bring even the healthiest of us a full blown case of cabin fever, a flush of energy which precedes the weather’s hospitality for outdoor activities to burn it off. If your spring fervor is making you feel stir crazy, here is a list of activities for the ides of March and April showers to help prepare your home and garden for a fabulous spring and summer to come!
- Declutter, Donate, and Simplify Belongings: “Marie Kondo” those closets and donate items you have not used in the last year (and those which don’t “bring you joy”). Among the core rules for living (yamas and niyamas), Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras teach the principles of asteya and aparigraha. Asteya, is non-stealing, abandoning the desire to take or keep things which belong to someone else. When we hold on to items we are not using, we are depriving a neighbor from making use of an item that could meet their needs. In this way of thinking, hoarding possessions which are not being used is a form of stealing from others in our communities. Similarly, we can embrace the teaching of aparigraha, the concept of freedom from the compulsion of acquiring. Being acquisitive is based in the belief that belongings can bring us happiness. Now if you are like me, you may indulge in the occasional temporary feel-good serotonin surge provided by retail therapy. Keeping life simpler though, and valuing a few beautiful items which are also useful, frees so much time otherwise wasted managing and organizing excess possessions. Summer is coming and I sure want to spend my free time out in nature playing rather than keeping clutter organized!
- Prepare the Garden: This is the perfect time to add compost to your soil, mulch the flowerbeds to minimize weed propagation, and plant cool hardy crops like kale, radishes, turnips, chard, and root vegetables. Curious about composting and not sure where to begin? Check out my article to get started. If you are lucky, you may have some overwintered carrots left in the garden like we did in the Nourish Wellness garden last week. Super sweet surprise! Click here to learn more. If gardening is new to you and feels like a big project, start small with a container garden on your patio or even window boxes if you are in the city! Find your peace in your own patch of green.
- Spring is nature’s time of growth and expansion. Keep your brain sharp by taking up new skills or hobbies this season! At Apple a Day Doc, we are learning about raising and keeping organic backyard chickens to deepen our permaculture and improve the sustainability of our gardens this year. This is a project I’ve considered for a few years, and now that the girls are home with us, I can’t believe I waited so long to try! Each of the chicks has a distinct personality, and I look forward to seeing how much they have grown each evening when I get home from Nourish Wellness Family Medicine.
- Clean away cobwebs and make the windows shine using natural products to keep your home and family safe and spiffy. Many common household cleaners contain chemicals which are toxic or carcinogenic. Check out my article on homemade versions of common cleaning aids which are safer (and less expensive) to keep your home shining.
- Renew your efforts at nixing single use plastic products this spring. Substitute mason jars for Saran-wrap or styrofoam. Bring your own bags to the grocery and buy plant based whole foods from your produce section, choosing items with no packaging or biodegradable packaging when needed. Why in the world would one shrink wrap an uncut cucumber? Ix-nay disposable plastic bottles and bring your own water container to work and the gym.
Written By: Ann C. Collins, MD, RYT
Photo Credit: Ann C. Collins, MD, RYT