Irish eyes are smiling on St. Patrick’s Day! It just seems right to green the greenest of all holidays, doesn’t it? Here’s how to transfer a bit of that Irish luck to Mother Earth:
What’s St. Patrick’s Day without a mug or two of beer?
- Opt for an organic brew. A local organic brewery bar is as green as you can get, since the beer has a low carbon footprint and the ingredients are free of pesticides and other chemicals. At the very least, make sure a local or organic brew made with fresh, pesticide-free hops, wheat, and barley is on tap at your local pub. Most beer manufacturers are now producing a broad assortment of brews produced with ingredients that meet organic production standards. Even giants like Anheuser-Busch have gotten into the act. Local, organic beers are also traveling shorter distances so they are often less expensive and fresher than foreign imports. Get started with this online brewers directory for some great local beers near you.
- Order beer on tap. Many bars recycle, but it’s always best to use fewer individual bottles. And if your favorite establishments don’t recycle, now may be the perfect time to kindly suggest that they start.
- Go for glass over aluminum. When you have the option, it’s always best to choose glass over cans since recycling glass is more environmentally friendly. Also, look for bottles packaged with little or no paper labels. More paper and packaging = more waste.
- Hosting a party? Skip the cans and bottles and go for the keg! Kegs are a win-win for your wallet and the environment. Not only are kegs reusable, but they also cut down on the waste you’d normally accumulate with loads of bottles and cans. Also make sure to have reusable glasses and cups on hand for your guests (no disposable cups, they will inevitably end up in a landfill near you).
- Remember to sort your own empties into your recycling bin. If you haven’t gotten involved your local recycling program yet, there’s no better time than the present to locate your best local options and nearest centers.
Wear Green (organics) Proudly:
On St. Patrick’s Day, wearing green is mandatory if you want to avoid pinches from eager fingers.
- The eco-friendliest way to dress green is to wear what you already own: Less consumption means less waste, and even a small showing of the color (socks?) gets you into the pinch-free zone.
- If you must shop for a verdant hue, support one of the many fashion companies who manufacture with the planet in mind. Not surprisingly, many responsibly minded clothiers favor the color green, or even emphasize it, so it shouldn’t take the luck of the Irish to find what you need. Most major clothing companies — even Levi’s — now carry an organic line or two.
- Looking for something organic with an Irish touch? Try this shamrock beauty from OfflineTshirts.com. It’ll bring good luck to you and the Earth.
- Sure you want to dress to the nines in your green shirt (and maybe even pants), but why not wear truly green clothing by making sure they are organic or recycled cotton. Growing cotton takes a tremendous toll on the earth in terms of water use and the sheer tonnage of pesticides used to keep conventional fields healthy. But that’s not the only way to farm cotton, one of humankind’s best-loved and versatile fibers. Sustainable cotton production addresses these concerns, seeking reasonable yields which are better for the land and the people who work it. It’s better for the planet, which is sure to bring good some luck in the coming year, plus it’s something you can wear year-round.
- When it comes to those wacky hats and decorations, just say no to disposable party gear. Instead, opt for green beads and hats that can be worn for years to come.
- And if you’re going the painted face route, use organic or natural cosmetics rather than petroleum-based face paints.
There’s little debate over the impact of livestock farming on the environment. The average cattle ranch can produce as much sewage runoff as a small city. It takes about 16 pounds of grain or soy feed to produce a single pound of beef, and irrigation associated with livestock production accounts for around half of all the consumed water in the United States. So cutting back on meat consumption is an earth-friendly choice. And there’s no reason to let traditionally meat-heavy Irish cooking get your way.
- Try your hand at producing a veggie version of an old classic, Beef and Guinness Stew. You’ll find an easy recipe at About.com which substitutes seitan — a wheat gluten food — for the dish’s conventional ingredients and there are all manner of veggie “bangers” available at your local health or whole foods store just waiting to be fried.
- Although not traditional Irish cuisine, corned beef has become a St. Patrick’s Day staple for North Americans. If you do plan on serving it up — with cabbage, of course — buy your beef from an organic producer who practices sustainable ranching methods. You can also visit your local farmers’ market to find beef raised in your area; often, eating local is even eco-friendlier than eating organic.
Make Your Trip To and From the Bar Green:
The Irish, more than any other national group, have managed to get their bars into nearly every city on Earth.
- When you head out for the pub this year, join the growing movement of bike-only commuters and cycle there instead of driving to slash your greenhouse-gas emissions. However, remember to limit your intake; a BUI can be serious business. If your regular bar is too far to bike, try someplace new: Use your smartphone locate the closest bar with Guinness on tap. Cheers!
- After you have a few drinks you won’t be driving home. Walking is great if you’re close to home, but sometimes you just need to take a taxi. While they’re not exactly eco-friendly, you can make the cab ride gentler on the earth by taking the shortest route, splitting a cab with friends if you’re headed in the same general direction and paying with cash to cut down on idling time. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a cab fleet that uses hybrid cars, give the green company your business.
- If your principles won’t let you take a cab, check out public transit options. If you live in a bigger city, luck may be on your side since many extend public transit hours on March 17 to make sure everyone gets home safely. Just be sure to check transit hours before heading out for the night.
Plant Something Green:
Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
- If you’re green at heart, put some green in your garden. Or you can pay to have something planted where it will do the most good.
- If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint — the amount of carbon dioxide generated annually as the result of your person consumption — become a modern Johnny Appleseed and put down some trees. As little as $90 is enough to plant 900 trees, more than enough to cover your annual generation of carbon dioxide.
- For a St. Patrick’s Day twist, scatter some organic clover seed in your garden. It’s attractive, bee-friendly, and helps hold moisture into the soil.
Donate Some Green:
If you’re thankful for your Irish heritage or just want to sow a little good karma in the Emerald Isle, find an Irish charity and lend them a hand.
- Most of the major international groups have an Irish presence. Habitat for Humanity is one example. You can also find a list of regional organizations at IndexIreland.com.