By Joyce Comingore
Another day, another brand new year. Now is the time we take to re-evaluate our lives.
January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Originally, the Roman calendar only had 10 months, 304 days. Winter was considered a monthless period. Then around 713 B.C., King Numa Pompilius supposedly added two more months to keep the calendar equal to a standard lunar year, 355 days.
March was the first month of the old Roman calendar. January and February were then added. Using Greek and Roman mythology, March was so named after Mars, the God of war; April comes from aperire, Latin for "to open" (buds); May was named after Maia, the goddess of the growth of plants; June emulated junius, the Latin goddess, Juno; then, counting from the original first month of March, July was first called Quintillus, meaning fifth, but now named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.; August, of course, was named after Augustus Caesar in 8 B.C. but was originally called Sextillis, meaning sixth; September comes from septem, Latin for seven; October, from Latin octo, meaning eight. November from novem, Latin for nine; and December, from decem, Latin for ten.
Janus (Ianuarius), the god of the doorway in Roman mythology, derived from the Latin word for door (ianus), commemorated January as the door to a new year. Janus had two faces. One face looks forward and the other is looking back. He is actually looking east to west to follow the rising and setting sun.
I am forcibly challenged to do some New Year's resolutions because I was informed by phone last night, that I was laid off of work. A real habit changer. I read where it takes 66 days for a task to become a new habit. I have always wanted to be more conscious of living green, and now I need to be lean and green. Kermit told me, and everyone else, "It isn't easy being green." So, I researched how one person can be greener. I know I won't be able to recreate overnight all I need to change in my lifestyle, but small baby steps at a time can lead me to being a better person.
#1 - GIVE UP PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS. Now I've known this for some time and have filled my car with cloth bags. The key seems to be to remember to take them in with me and not be in such a hurry to shop. I do manage to collect all these plastic bags and stuff them into recyclable bins at the stores that provide them, but using cloth bags calls for real dedication.
#2 - BUY LOCALLY. I love the Farmer's Markets we have on Thursdays, under the bridge at Centennial Park, Fridays at Lakes Park and Saturday mornings, now back to downtown Cape Coral. Hopefully, the produceis local and not carrying a huge carbon footprint by being shipped in. Big chain stores are not the only ones hurt by this economy. Our small local retailers are struggling, too, and need our support. And it keeps our money here.
#3 - REPLACE YOUR LIGHT BULBS. This can have a big impact on our environment and electric bills. They may seem expensive at first, but the turnover and savings are a big help. It's estimated that if every home replaced a single light bulb with an energy-efficient bulb, it would save about $600 million in annual energy costs. Look for the government approved ENERGY STAR light bulbs.
#4 - RE-INSULATE YOUR HOME. If roof insulation is too much for you, reseal your windows and add draft stoppers to your outside doors. A simple way to save money, be energy efficient and be warm or cool, whatever you needs.
#5 - GROW YOUR OWN VEGETABLES AND FOOD. This is the most fun and so healthy. Not just being outside, but having fresh, chemically free food for the body. Unless you have a really big lot, you won't be able to fulfill all your needs, but a taste of homegrown vegetables here and there, adds so much to the pleasure of eating. I also like to plant fruit trees for fresh seasonal fruits. Know-ing I did it, grew it, adds to the flavor. I grieve at the zoning out of raising chickens. We had fresh eggs and meat always.
#6, #7and #8 - REMEMBER THE 3 Rs, REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE. We have become such a disposable society. Being raised in a large family during the depression, I cringe when my children add to the landfill by throwing away perfectly good articles that are reparable. Our affluent society has spoiled us. Pride yourself on being creative and finding new uses for old items. As for recycling, I know I should and I really mean to do it. Our big bins no longer have to have things separated individually. It all goes into the one big bin and rolled down to the curb.
#9 - EAT ORGANIC. No matter which side of the debate you are on about whether it is good for you, we can agree that it is better for the environment wasted fertilizer contaminates our main attraction - our waterways. It's still best to buy locally, because transported in organic, leaves a big carbon footprint.
#10 - GO PAPERLESS. That is even better than recycling. The trees you save may be the ones absorbing the carbon dioxide pollutants and providing us with the oxygen we find so essential.
It all adds up, just do it one step at a time. And please, thank a tree.
Joyce Comingore is a master gardener, a national board director of the American Hibiscus Society and a Garden Club of Cape Coral member.