By Carole King
Whenever I send an email I complete my signature with an icon about historic preservation being the ultimate recycling. I consider myself a green person and try diligently to recycle aluminum, papers, cardboard, etc. but I’ve decided that living in Midtown in a 98 year old bungalow is the best way to live by that creed. A friend recently forwarded a great article that has the misleading title of “Ten Easy Steps to Becoming a Radical Homemaker” written by Shannon Hayes for Yes! Magazine. Anybody who knows me knows that homemaking, nesting and housecleaning are not my forté! But when I read the article, I realized that Ms. Hayes was really just explaining how to be true to the planet, true to ourselves, and true to our historic neighborhoods. And since living simply is the totally chic thing to do now, we residents of midtown Montgomery are in vogue. This is my version of 10 easy steps to living green and getting the most out of living in Midtown Montgomery:
- Hang your laundry outside to dry. My dryer died last summer and I have actually gotten addicted to really fresh smelling sheets and towels and am saving money on utilities.
- Try your hand at planting some of your own food. I have a plethora of multi-generational squirrel families in my pecan trees, so I always plant my Sweet 100s or grape tomatoes and peppers in pots. I also have several blueberry bushes in pots and move them around to make sure they get enough sun to produce berries. They have a great fall color as well.
- Know who your neighbors are. They can be a cheap burglar alarm system. Every time I have any work done at my house, I get multiple calls from neighbors just checking to see who the unfamiliar van in my driveway belongs to. You might even consider carpooling with your neighbors if you work near each other, thus being even greener! Or better yet, bicycle to work — but that’s fodder for another post!
- Buy your food locally. We in midtown are lucky to have three farmers’ markets available to us — Madison Avenue, Fairview Avenue and the State Farmers’ Market on Coliseum Boulevard. Vendors don’t just carry fresh produce. You can also purchase eggs, cheese, tea, flowers and gifts at our local markets.
- Clean out regularly. Donate household items and clothing to the many charities we have locally. They can either distribute to their clients or sell in income-producing thrift shops. Plus, how many black pair of slacks do we realllllllly need?
- Carry your own bags. Whether it’s the grocery store, farmers’ market, or discount store, carry something to bring home your purchases in. I enjoy using really fun carriers that advertise yet another cause!
- Try your hand at preserving a seasonal food item that you will enjoy later. I grow the smaller tomatoes, dehydrate them and then store in (recycled) glass jars of olive oil and garlic. Lots of folks freeze peaches, peas, corn or beans to enjoy when the weather turns colder.
- Spend time at home with your family while preparing and sharing a meal. It saves restaurant costs, catches up on family doings, cuts down on movie or other entertainment costs and could really be fun! Cancel the cable and get out those old traditional board games like Monopoly, Clue or checkers. It’s all new to the kids…
- Use our local libraries. The outer neighborhoods have smaller satellite libraries but our Juliette Morgan Branch on South Lawrence Street stays open in the evenings and the weekends. Besides books for all ages, they have books-on-CDs, videos and DVD movies. Check out all of the libraries’ services. And it’s all free!
- And last, but definitely not least: “Focus on enjoying what you have and who you are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better.” (Shannon Hayes in radicalhomemakers.com). And I don’t think I could have said it any better.
Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!