Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Small Steps for Planet Earth

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Earth Day was first started in 1970 by Wisconsin Democrat, Gaylord Nelson as an opportunity to teach environmental consciousness. Most of us make some attempt to reduce our impact on the earth, but sometimes when we look at all the things we do it can be overwhelming. Maybe even to the point of inertia.

Every choice we make can have a rippling effect. Make one small choice for environmentally conscious living and you can help us all live better.
You can start with something that you do every day--eat. You might start by picking just one of these actions:

At the grocery store

  • Buying just one or two pieces of locally grown produce each week can shift demand for local products
  • Skip the bag when you can carry your purchase
  • Choose not to use grocery produce bags to hold that single cucumber or bunch of bananas—nature has given many produce their own convenient packages
  • Buy whole lettuce heads rather than packaged salad greens
  • Purchase bulk items with reusable containers

At the coffee shop

  • Bring your own cup—disposable coffee cups are often not recyclable since the inside contains a coating. Nationally we use over 350 million disposable cups each day. Plus many shops will discount your cup when you bring your own
  • Buy only fair trade coffee. It sounds simple but fair trade is more complex and helpful than it seems. Fair trade helps independent farmers in Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela sustain their living. Unlike plantation grown coffee, fair trade farming protects the forests offering shade and safety to songbirds. As a bonus fair trade coffee is often higher quality and better flavored—well worth the extra $1/lb.

At your table

  • Eat whole foods—reduce packaged and processed foods, their impact on the environment is great and whole foods are much better for you. Cook your own beans and don’t use instant rice or oatmeal.
  • No more high-fructose corn syrup—Eliminating high fructose corn syrup would significantly affect the processed food industry. You’d be surprised how many foods contain this sugar alternative.
  • Meat—Meat production is a huge burden on the planet. Less than 50 years ago meat was not served at every meal and was not typically the centerpiece of the meal. Anna Lappe, author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen says, “Factory farms contribute 18% of all green-house gas emissions—more than transportation.”

Okay, still daunted? Try making just one change in your food purchase decisions. The impact you make will count. Once the change has become habit and in another good choice.

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