How do you make roses bloom. Ordinarily you plant them in good soil, with plenty of compost and natural fertilizer. Feed and water them regularly and trim them back when necessary. If you have aphids either purchase lady bugs to clear them out or use a natural bug spray in order to run them off. The same holds true for black spot, which I had on my roses. There are natural treatments that aren’t crammed full of chemicals that tend to leak into the soil and harm everyone downstream.

The same goes true for our relationship with our environment. If we want to keep our living spaces uncluttered and yet not stuff the landfills to overflowing we need to think critically and plan ahead for what we need to get rid of. There are several ways to downsize responsibly while remaining green.

Recycle: tin and aluminum cans, cardboard and paper, even batteries and some plastics can be recycled. Solid Waste locations in your community are perfect places to bring recycled materials if you don’t have regular recycling pickups. Even things like used oil and propane tanks (now that camping season is over) can be recycled.

Reuse – think of the containers that you have and try to imagine another use for them. For years I used shoeboxes for storing old letters (I ultimately tossed most out) or printed pictures – back in the pre-digital days. Cottage cheese, sour cream, margarine all are useful containers for small items. And used gallon water or milk jugs can be quite handy for watering flowering pots. Grocery bags are great for lining small trash baskets -especially if there would be food waste in them.

Repurpose – similar to reusing but with a specific purpose in mind. Think of the cardboard packages that deliveries come in. They are handy for storage. Or use coffee grounds for adding nitrogen to the soil of household plants. Even skewer sticks can be used to support plants as they grow- like my cherry tomatoes.

Compost – this is an area that is still lacking in availability. Most rental properties don’t have the set up for compost, even while they have recycle bins out the yin-yang. If you have a yard you can set up a compost bin or pile. Growing up in the suburbs of Portland we had a regular compost pile in the backyard. Grass clippings, tree branches, rotting apples and pears, all went in there. After the massive Columbus Day storm in 1962 when we lost a few trees the compost pile grew greatly. There is so much waste from meal making that often goes into the garbage that could easily be added to the composting pile if it is only there.

Give away to charity. If things are in fair shape they can be donated to Salvation Army, Goodwill, St Vincent De Paul, etc. Your trash can be transformed into someone else’s treasure. They even take furniture and appliances. If it has run out its course with you it can be reanimated and find a new life with someone else.

And you might be surprised that old clothes with holes and tears can be recycled as “threads”. There is a local outfit near us called Ridwell that will take many items that aren’t usually recycled – bottle caps, margarine containers (clean), plastics, batteries, and “threads”.

The biggest way to be environmentally friendly and help those roses bloom, is to cut down on the non-biodegradable stuff that comes IN to your home, so that there is less to toss OUT of you home. Try to only purchase things with a minimum of packaging. Heed the health advice when grocery shopping of sticking to the outsides of the store and avoiding the processed and heavily packaged inner aisles. If you can buy in bulk – for better value and less containers. And try to limit your shopping trips so that less pollution goes into the air. Maybe even consider a hybrid or fully electric car.

These steps will help to keep our planet green and preserve the roses blooming.