It's election season again, and things are heating up! Not only is it time to think about political
decisions, this is also the time to think about our environment and things we can all do to help our environment and leave a positive legacy.
This is the perfect time of year to vote for the following items:
* Vote to use Native Plants in your garden! Native plants bring in an amazing number and variety of pollinators. These amazing plants provide nectar for pollinators - but that is not all! Many of our native plants are larval food for caterpillars - larval food that they need for survival. Native plants provide cover for wildlife, such as birds and mammals. Some insects, such as bees, live in the hollow stems of some plants. But more on that in a minute.
* Vote to utilize clean and sustainable lawn care habits. Endeavor to switch to non-motorized
lawn care equipment. A good old fashion reel mower is very effective for lawn maintenance. A rake and a broom are excellent alternatives to leaf blowers and weed whackers. And, by all means, please refrain from using herbicides in massive doses to kill vegetation around borders - borders such as fences, I've seen this all too often, and it is a widespread habit. And it never works. It may be a temporary "fix" to the issue of weeds growing wild around trees, fences and lawn furniture, but it requires such massive doses of herbicide and must be reapplied on a regular basis. Perhaps rethink the way you do your lawn care. Are those weeds truly causing a problem, and is there a hand tool you can use to get to them? If we make some small changes to our lawn care we can reduce noise pollution, air pollution, and chemical pollution, which will improve our environment substantially.
* Vote to Love Your Bugs! I am rather new to this camp. I have lists of "good garden bugs" and "bad garden bugs". I've always been an organic gardener, so I never used chemicals on the bugs, but I did work hard to get rid of "bad bugs" in whatever "safe" way I could think of. Now I view things differently. As long as the bug is a native species, even if it destroying my plants, it gets a "pass". We need those bugs to bring in the "good bugs". It is all part of the natural cycle of life. Rather than automatically assign the label "good" or "bad" to a bug, try to learn more about them! Learn to appreciate the role they play in the environment. It makes a difference!
* Vote to leave leaves! There are some caterpillars, such as Luna Moths, that require leaf litter in order to pupate. Leaves also provide excellent mulch for gardens and lawns. In addition, build a brush pile to provide habitat for other critters. And rather than cut them down after flowering, leave stems on plants. Several small bees and other insects use the hollow stems of plants such as Milkweed and Cone Flower to nest and overwinter. Plus, the seeds of these plants provide food for birds well into winter. It's a natural bird feeder!
* Vote to drive less! I know, I know! Our society is set up for car ownership and usage! Sidewalks? Practically non-existent. Bike lanes? Be real! But it is important to take this step, as it were. The more we ask our cities and states to implement Complete Streets and to improve mass transit the more likely things will eventually change. Indeed, that change is already happening as the Millennials are driving less and walking, cycling, and using mass transit more. Some urban areas are making
changes, and Springfield was awarded a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly community in 2010. Springfield continues to improve its bicycle, pedestrian and mass transit options, but there is yet much work ahead. We all play a part, so let's all work together to get this done!
* Vote to use less energy! Something as simple as turning off a light that is not in use can help a lot! My parents survived the Great Depression and taught me at an early age to be wise about what I use and what I waste. There are no easy solutions. People who know me know I do not believe in the terminology of "clean" or "green" energy. All energy has costs and all energy affects our environment in some way. The first item on any agenda should always be: use less!
* Vote to go outside and enjoy nature! I'll leave that up to you!