Happy Earth Day! Today is the day to take stock of your impact on the Earth. Being the caring and intelligent people you are, I know that you already recycle, avoid plastic bags and bottles, use CFL bulbs and recycled paper products, and buy local when practical. Therefore, I propose we look at two painless and practical changes to mark Earth Day: eating and shopping.
top left: green smoothie from Minimalist Baker | top right: lentil "meatballs" in lemon pesto from Sprouted Kitchen | bottom left: 5 minute espresso walnut brownies from Minimalist Baker | bottom right: quinoa granola from Hungry Hungry Hippie
Above are some of my favorite meat-free recipes. Over the past few years, I have been eating less and less meat and finally decided to become vegetarian this year. I know many people are not yet comfortable with the terms vegetarian and vegan, though that is obviously changing. This is not going to be a plea for you to radically change your diet. In fact, you probably already eat vegetarian meals without calling them such, and this is simply a call for you to be more aware of your meat consumption. Your food choices affect the environment and your health. The Environmental Working Group compared the carbon footprint of twenty common foods and, unsurprisingly, meat and cheese have the highest outputs. Reducing consumption of these foods is better for the environment. It's also better for your health: limiting animal products will reduce your chance of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, and creeping weight gain. Hooray!
Some suggestions for getting started:
- Meatless Monday has become quite popular so keep it up or join in!
- heck out 7 meat-free protein sources (and how to use them) from Greatist. You can also tweet your changes to Greatist and get encouragement from the community.
- Check out my food Pinterest boards for more yummy meat-free recipes.
- Have fun exploring new recipes and foods. Think of it as a taste adventure!
It's likely that we all recycle, but the fact is recycling is not enough. As good stewards of the Earth, we need to make a concerted effort to reduce, make due, or buy from the pool of already-created aterial goods. The Story of Stuff is a short video that exposes the connections between the stuff that we buy and serious environmental and social issues. Here's what shocked me most:
- Ninety-nine percent of the stuff Americans buy is trashed within 6 months.
- Advertising + manufacturers create obsolescence which manipulates us into thinking we need new stuff or, in fact, breaks by design.
- When you buy something cheap, the price is made up elsewhere: the environment, worker conditions, and lack of healthcare are just some of the cost.
Whether it be hand-me-downs, garage sales, thrift stores, Ebay, Craigslist, Yerdle, or the vintage section of Etsy, let's just call it all "thrifting". Mainly to find unique items, I was doing it long before Macklemore decided it was cool. But thrifting has other benefits: it saves raw materials, energy, pollution and packaging, it's better for the environment, can be cheaper than buying new, and my purchase (or donation) often supports a non-profit. Things like books, picture frames and glassware are my most common second-hand purchases. Keep a running list of items you are looking for; I find most of my purchases to be serendipitous.
- Thriftshopper.com lets you search for thrift stores by zip code or city. Great for finding stores when you're away from home!
- Yerdle provides localized communities of free stuff.
- Everybody knows Craigslist, right?
- Amazon offers used books and a trade-in system. Even better, support a local used bookshop. E-books are another smart option.
- Some people love to find all the cool vintage stuff and then offer it to you on Etsy. Although buying local is always the best option, take advantage of their curation skills.
Making green choices doesn't have to be painful. Little changes made by all of us add up, so on this Earth Day, think about what you can do to make a difference.
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