Green Your St. Patrick’s Day, Not Just Your Shirt

I grew up in a small village (population: less than 400) in the middle of Michigan that is incredibly proud of its Irish heritage. It also just so happens that its local tavern holds the state’s oldest liquor license. Combine these two facts and what I have always known is a huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration; one with potato rolls, delicious beef stew and copious amounts of green beer. And if you didn’t get to the tavern early enough, they’d be out of all of the above. People would come from miles and miles around to celebrate. It was standing room only and the town’s fifteen parking spots on the one small block that made up “main street” were nowhere near enough to accommodate. St. Patrick’s Day, here, is like Christmas — only without the pre-holiday stress and over-indulgent electricity usage.

Unfortunately, our consumerism-centered culture has turned this, just as every other holiday, into another day to buy cheap plastic trinkets and indulge in high-environmental-impact dishes and drinks. How can you celebrate in style without harming the earth?

Wear green, just not new green. You may not have a solid green shirt or one with a catchy St. Patrick’s saying scrawled across the chest, but you probably have something containing the color. Top a black shirt with a green scarf, sparkle your ears with a pair of emeralds; whatever you choose choose it from your existing wardrobe. Don’t have anything at all? Check out local thrift shops for lightly used clothing and accessories — bargains for your wallet and Mother Nature!

Eat Irish, hold the beef. Turn traditional Irish recipes upside down; create a vegetarian version or follow one of hundreds of recipes that can be found online — like these from Can’t imagine forgoing the corned beef or stew? Check out your farmer’s market for locally grown pastured meat products. While you’re there keep your eyes peeled for your side dishes, too. Cabbages and potatoes, both traditional St. Patrick’s fare, are generally available now either after having been wintered-over or grown fresh from by local farmers.

Want a pint? Dye your own local brew. A few drops of food coloring will go a long way. Or better yet, find a local brewery who is offering green beer for the holiday.

Get the kids involved. For little ones holidays mean crafts and crafts all too often mean waste. Now’s the time to change that. Use empty glass jars and a little organic potting soil to plant tiny terrariums of clover and watch them grow over the course of the coming spring months, cut pots of gold from cardboard boxes and let the kids color and decorate to their heart’s content — pull out your recycling bins and get creative.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day for one and all!

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Diana Prichard is the Managing Editor of 5 Minutes for Going Green, a freelance writer, Handmade, local and artisan Food Columnist and aspiring small farmer. She lives in rural Mid-Michigan (just miles from that tiny village in which she grew up — and plans to attend St. Pat’s Festivities in again this year) with her husband, two daughters, three dogs and an ever-changing menagerie of farm animals large and small. You can follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.

One Response to Green Your St. Patrick’s Day, Not Just Your Shirt
  1. nothing but limericks
    March 6, 2010 | 12:08 pm


    ‘Tis sure I’ll be wearing the green,

    When the calendar says March seventeen,

    To help me to think,

    It Smithwick’s I drink,

    Just try some, you’ll know what I mean.