I was delighted to find that we’ve been shortlisted for the SME (small/medium enterprises) category in the 20011 Irish Green Awards but as I’ve been sharing my news, I was surprised by the amount of people who’ve asked me “what does that mean?”. So I’ll do my best to answer what it means to me and Greenside Up…
Here’s the Greenside Up top ten (this list could go on… it was difficult just choosing ten!) of easy ways to make a difference.
Use energy efficient light bulbs and turn lights off when rooms are empty.
- Always choose paper (and that includes loo roll) that’s been sourced from FSCs – which means that the forests have been managed sustainably.
- Reuse, recycle or give away. In the last couple of years Mr G has collected four bicycles and a cross trainer from the dump that people were about to throw into the container (my ‘new’ bike has 18 gears and still had the plastic tags on the tyres). What a waste – have we really become such a throw away society!
- Conserve water. We have a well but have noticed in the summer months, and as more houses have appeared around us, that the supply isn’t as good as it used to be. Only running the dishwasher when it’s full, collecting rainwater from gutters (or grey water) to water plants or lawns can be very simply done. Installing taps that automatically turn off and changing to more efficient toilet cisterns can help to conserve water too.
- Turn the heating down! The hotter the house (or workplace) the colder a person seems to become! We lived in a mobile home for 18 months whilst we were renovating and have definitely become more accustomed to the cold. Wearing a fleece over a tea shirt indoors in the winter months shouldn’t be unusual.
- Talk about the steps you make to help the environment a better place and how easy those steps are, to your friends and neighbours… the more people who take them, the more commonplace they will become.
- Think about whether a journey is necessary before automatically jumping into a car…. Can the task be achieved by phone, computer, working from home or sharing lifts? Make lists so that you can do all your trips in one go.
- Maintain appliances and choose energy efficient ones when you’re replacing them. Have an energy audit done (which you will have to pay for but could save you money in the long run). Work out your own Carbon Footprint to see what you can do to reduce or offset it.
- Shop locally. Support your neighbours and their business. Think about the air miles your out of season asparagus has travelled that you can buy so cheaply.
- And it goes without saying for Greenside Up; grow your own food organically! Whether its a few herbs on a windowsill or a garden full of veg, growing your own makes you more aware of how food is produced, how far it’s travelled, what crops must have been sprayed with to be sold in such pristine condition and why organic food is tastier.
Note: Insecticidal soaps don’t discriminate…. they will kill beneficial larvea too.
|Scout group charging down the main street!|
Determined to take a day off, the holiday started well with a long lay in, mug of tea and a copy of Gardeners World. Unusually, and totally out of character, the children were all up and dressed in their scout uniforms (waiting for the local parade to start at 3.00pm) by the time I got up. It was 10.30am and a gloriously sunny St Patrick’s morning.
After a couple of free overseas mobile phone calls (thank you Vodaphone), I left the bacon to soak and headed out to the garden. The front flower beds are always the last to receive attention, with all work usually centred around the veggy beds.
However, feeling inspired by my earlier reading, I attacked the docks, dandelions and little tingly nettles with enthusiasm, imagining the scents and colours that will hopefully fill the garden in a few months time.
As Mr G can attest, gardening often gets in the way of mealtimes, but I tore myself away from the weeding, and with our middle daughter as a willing helper started to prepare the St Patrick Day’s lunch.
|Freshly picked today|
Even though Mr G was away for the day we’d planned a traditional lunch. Bacon accompanied by home grown parsnips, kale, a few of the remaining swedes, and some french beans that were frozen last summer would all be on the menu, leaving carrots and potatoes to prepare from the shop bought veg.
I won’t harp on about boiling bacon and peeling veg, but I will share an old favourite potato cake recipe that I cook whenever friends of family visit from the UK, or on a special day like today. It’s a handy recipe to have up your sleeve too for those annoying times when you only have a few spuds left but have to feed a big crowd.
Potato Cake Recipe (feeds 4-5)
225 gm self raising flour
225g mashed potato, cooled
a little milk
Preheat the oven to 225oC. Sieve the flour into a bowl, then add the butter, rubbing it in. Add the mashed potato and seasoning and mix together. Add enough milk to bring the mixture together and make a dough.
Roll out the dough on a floured board, place on a greased baking tray, marking it in triangles and place in the oven for about 25 minutes.
I also made a mustard seed sauce to accompany the bacon but didn’t measure the ingredients, so I’m guessing to a certain degree. There’s just about enough here for two portions as the flavour’s are a bit too strong for the children!
Mustard Seed Sauce
Pour 3 ladles of the bacon cooking liquer into a saucepan and boil until it is reduced by about half. Add half a carton of creme fresh and cook for about 10 minutes. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and a small knob of butter to taste.
Sadly, as also happens regularly in this house, the yummy dinner was placed on the table 10 minutes before we were due to leave for the parade. It’s always such a rush here! The good news was that we had a pudding to look forward to when we returned - strawberry and rhubarb crumble that Granny and middle daughter made and froze last summer. Numumumum!
Happy St Patrick’s Day