Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions For 2019

Image from Trees, Water & People website.

Gaia Grows

Mother Nature Works In Mysterious Ways

Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions For 2019

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By Kathleen Miller

Gaia’s Farm and Gardens


Sustainable living, gardening, and farming is based on an understanding of ecosystems, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will last over time. Having a harmonious relationship with Gaia (Mother Earth) provides food for people, enhances the natural environment upon which the community depends, makes efficient use of resources and integrates natural cycles that sustain economic viability as well as enhances the quality of life for the community as a whole.

My first smack in the face from Mother Nature came in high school when I was eating lunch with my two best friends, Liz and Angie. We considered ourselves hippies, me and Liz, but Angie took it to a whole other level. She was the valedictorian of the class ahead of me and always had my respect. She reminded me a lot of my nature-loving father, who preached passionately about nature, her secrets and the gratitude we should have.

We had just finished eating at Taco Bell and were driving down Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Liz threw her Taco Bell waste out the window and I had a moment of complete forgetfulness and threw out mine, too. As soon as I did I thought of the shame of it and what my parents had taught me about respecting Mother Nature (Gaia). I will never forget how wrong I felt about doing it.  

Angie started yelling, horrified at our recent actions. She stopped the car in the middle of Roosevelt Road, which is a busy street. She freaked out and started channeling the not so nice energy of Mother Nature. It was like my dad was scolding me, because I had heard these same truths from him — and I intuitively knew before my teenage stupidity took hold of me that day — to respect Mother Earth. Angie preached with such conviction and passion, that I realized suddenly why they choose her to be the valedictorian of the class ahead of me. Traffic had stopped and was backing up while we were made to get out and pick up our litter as Angie continued to yell at us with logic and facts of why this is a terrible violation against Mother Earth. We picked up the scattered trash along the busy road, hurrying while everyone waited. When we were done, Angie allowed us back in the car and we returned to school.  

That experience changed my life and gave me a wake-up call that would forever change my destiny. I dedicated the song Angie by the Rolling Stones to be her song because it reminded me of her beautiful, wise and sparkling mama earth-loving soul. I had the privilege to show her my garden this year when she visited Northern Colorado. The highlight of the visit was picking a bouquet of flowers from my gardens with Angie and her amazing children. It rejoices my soul to find other like-minded souls who have that same respect for Mother Earth (Gaia).

Sustainable choices — no matter how small — add up to make a positive impact, and Angie knew this with deep conviction. Since the New Year is the perfect opportunity to start practicing new, more sustainable habits, here is a list of changes you can make to expand upon your sustainability journey in 2019. I dedicate this New Year’s Gaia Grows to my dear friend Angie.  It is my tribute to her beautiful nature-loving soul and the impact it had on my life. It goes to show you that Mother Nature (Gaia) works in mysterious ways.

Angie by the Rolling Stones


Ditch the plastic bags

Reusable bags are more sustainable than plastic bags. You can get living proof if you visit the Larimer County Landfill and see them blowing all over the place. Remembering to bring your bags along to the store is the hard part. Write yourself a reminder to grab your reusable bags and hang it by the door so you’ll see it on your way out and keep a stash of bags in the trunk or in your car.


Bike, walk, or take public transportation

Commit to using environmentally-friendly modes of transportation rather than driving. Not only will you save gas and carbon emissions, but you’ll save gas money and/or get a quick workout in while supporting Northern Colorado bike paths.


Food waste is still waste

If you already have curbside recycling, take your efforts one step further by collecting your food waste for composting. Use a 5-gallon bucket with a lid to keep down the smell. You can also get a pig or make your own compost bins. I do both, but some people are not as blessed to have such an enthusiastic volunteer pig as I do name Simba. He is my living recycling machine and a dear member of my family of farm animals. I compost the kitchen scraps and coffee grounds and other items that can go into compost and the rest goes to Simba. He sure loves his mama’s leftovers and Vern’s pancakes. Recycling and composting food scraps and waste help you keep the trash you send to the landfill minimal. You could save on your trash bill by reducing your service as well.

Get an energy assessment

How efficient is your home? Is it poorly insulated or does it leak air? A residential energy assessment is a foolproof way to find out. Once you know what your home is lacking, then you can work on incorporating suggested improvements, saving both energy and money. Currently, 20 percent of the electricity is generated by renewable resources and will increase to 55 percent by 2026. But you don’t have to wait nine years to increase the renewable energy you use at home because most energy companies offer renewable energy plans.  Check out your local energy provider’s website for more information.

Eat a more plant-based diet

If you are not eating locally raised meat, chances are the meat products you purchase come from factory farms. These operations are very resource-intensive, cause water pollution, and they contribute to not only aquatic dead zones but also climate change.  Eating a more plant-based diet —even once a week — can have a significant impact on your environmental footprint. And, it is healthy for you. This also is a great opportunity to support local farms and farmers in your community.

Shop local

Keep your community vibrant and healthy. Take the time and spend your money to support local businesses with your presence and dollars. You really do have an impact on your money. Shopping locally supports the community in which you live. Shopping locally also keeps you engaged with your community and helps you become a big part of creating a community in which you want your children to grow up. Supporting your local community newspaper also is a great way to keep your money invested locally. Local businesses should support their local paper with advertising and subscriptions in print or online to show their support. If you want to attract more customers and show that you are a more sustainable choice than the big box store, it is imperative to advertise and support the local paper.  

Don’t litter; plant tees

Respect the community you live in and volunteer for trash pick-ups at local parks and recreation areas.  Pick up litter along the road when you are out for a walk. Be mindful of your actions and look at Mother Nature as a friend that you respect and would like to help.  Go plant trees and support your local nurseries. If you can’t plant trees where you live, volunteer with a nonprofit such as Trees, Water People, located in Fort Collins, and plant trees for various meaningful projects.

Hug a tree

Go hug a tree and see what it feels like.  It is very therapeutic and grounding to hug trees and it helps them grow as well as yourself.  This is a wonderful activity to do with children to teach them about the environment and connect them to Mother Earth (Gaia). My daughter and I would do this together when she was little and I have so many beautiful memories hugging trees with her from Colorado to along the coast of California imprinted upon my soul that I will never forget.  

Have a happy and safe New Year’s from Gaia Grows.