Be green even if you’re not Irish

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Everyone claims to have at least some Irish background on St. Patrick’s Day. For some, it involves wearing the only green piece of clothing in the closet, cooking up corned beef and cabbage even if it isn’t the family’s favorite dish, or eating unidentifiable food coated with green food coloring.

Rather than be green on just one day, think about ways you can be green all year starting on St. Patrick’s Day. Here are some ideas.

Plant a garden

Planting a vegetable garden can be one of the most rewarding summer activities. Not only can it provide fresh vegetables for the dinner table, but it also means buying fewer vegetables that have been shipped from around the world at great cost and leaving behind a large carbon footprint.

Even though our growing season is short, our high altitude and cool nights can also be an advantage. Most cool-season vegetables grow very well in Archuleta County. These include broccoli, cabbage, onions, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach and Swiss chard. Root crops also do very well here, including carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes.

Call the CSU Extension office if you would like to purchase seed potato varieties grown in the San Luis Valley. They are usually available for pickup and planting in early May.

For more information on starting a garden at high altitude, download the following CSU Fact Sheet: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/colorado-mountain-gardening-basics-7-224/.

Start recycling

Recycling keeps usable waste out of the landfill and provides the raw materials used in the manufacturing of other products. It isn’t difficult to recycle. It’s just a matter of setting up a method that works for you.

One option is to use plastic bins for each type of recycling material such as cans, bottles, paper and plastic. When they fill up, put them in the back of your vehicle and bring them to the Archuleta County recycling center located at the Transfer Station on Trujillo Road from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The cost is minimal at $2 per residential load and $6 per cubic yard of commercial recyclables.

You can also contract with local companies that provide home pickup of recyclables. For information on what types of materials are recyclable at the county facility, visit the county website at http://www.archuletacounty.org/index.aspx?nid=263.

Replace your lights with LEDs

LED is a highly energy-efficient lighting technology and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States. Residential LEDs ‚ especially Energy Star-rated products, use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1,000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.

This information was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and additional information on the potential savings can be found on that department’s website at http://energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting.

Save water in and around the home

Water is one of our most precious and valuable resources and there are many ways to save water in our normal everyday activities. Here are a few simple tips:

• Wash clothes only when you have a full load.

• In manufacturing a bottle of water, a large amount of water is wasted. Use refillable water bottles rather than buying pre-filled plastic water bottles.

• Take a shorter shower and install water-conserving showerheads and low-flush toilets if possible.

• Don’t run the water while you shave or brush your teeth.

• Catch the water in your shower each morning that runs while you wait for your water to heat. Use that water to water plants.

Start a compost bin

Composting your kitchen and garden waste is a great way to reduce what is thrown in the landfill and create a fantastic amendment for your garden soil.

There are many types of compost bins that you can make inexpensively. Follow this link to great information on how to start a compost bin at your home and the dos and don’ts of successful composting: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/composting-yard-waste-7-212/.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.

We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations.

Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.