Earth Day 2015! In November 2013 I made a commitment to help the Earth by switching from talking the talk in lightening my footprint on the planet to walking the walk. I’m not aiming for perfection here, but I’m also not buying into what I’ve heard some say “The problem with the climate is too huge for just one person to make a difference.” So why bother right? Personally, I find that kind of thinking a cop out and keeps us complacent. Yes, the climate problem is huge, the pillaging of our natural resources is huge, and trying to make a difference is huge, but what I’m trying to do to help the Earth is huge to me. By gum by golly! So what have I been up to?
Step one: Adopting a plant based lifestyle. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a pretty conscious eater for a long time. I used to source my meats locally; I even used raw milk when possible. Heck, I made cheese and butchered a goat (boy have times changed – I’m sorry little goat). But after reading the credible evidence about how positive a plant based diet is for my health (check out nutritionfacts.org), I decided to take some steps to help myself and the planet (here is a source that does a good job of summarizing the impact on the Earth). It’s been 16 months since I’ve gone veg and I feel fantastic, I eat the most amazing foods and I don’t miss dairy cheese (really, I don’t – you should taste my Alfredo sauce!).
Step two: Reducing my use of plastics. I know there’s plastic in the oceans, but holy cow Batman, I had no idea how insidious it was until I watched the documentary “Plasticized.” I don’t care that I live 2000 miles from the nearest ocean, I’m a member of the planet Earth, I have to care. Besides, if plastic particles can be found in nearly every part of our oceans, it can happen to our rivers and our lakes. Heck look at all the plastic bags and bits flying around in our landscape. It can take up to a 100 years for every bit of that plastic bag flying along side the highway to disappear.
I’ve been lugging cloth bags to the grocery store for years and I rarely buy bottled water, but once I committed to be even more vigilant about my consumption of packaging, plastic bags and plastic in general, it was like the blinders came off and I became extremely conscious of just how plastic has overtaken our store shelves. OK, here’s my rant on a few products that have plastic that have me saying “Really, people?”
- Baguettes in the paper bags now have a plastic window. As if you can’t already judge the baguette’s quality by looking at the end of the bread sticking out of the bag.
- Full Circle organic pasta uses a cardboard box made of mostly post consumer recycled paper (yes!) BUT, then they put the pasta inside a plastic bag. Grrr!
- Plastic peanut butter jars instead of glass. Is this a safety thing for little children? What about the chemicals that the container is made of that is in contact with the food.
- I really don’t like the clamshell type containers that organic greens come in. They are recyclable but my recycling company doesn’t take them. I avoid this problem by buying my greens in bulk bin at the co-op (30 minute drive one way), or save up the clamshells and drive to another recycling facility.
- I could go on, but I think you get my drift. On your next store visit really look around and see how we’ve given our food packaging over to plastic.
What have I done to reduce my use of plastic?
- Did you know you can get bamboo toothbrushes? They look so cool! When you’re done with it, you can pull the bristles out and use the handle as a plant marker.
- Being vegan, I eat a ton of vegetables. That means a lot of produce bags, so I bought a bunch of cotton produce bags. When you shop at a co-op, you can deduct the weight of the bag when you buy produce. My regular grocery store doesn’t do that, but paying just a few extra pennies, to not use all those plastic bags, is worth it to me.
- I try to not buy apples, potatoes and onions in bags. I buy them from the bulk section instead.
- I carry a portable shopping bag in my purse at all times in case I forget to carry in a cloth bag.
- I carry a variety of sizes of glass mason jars and paper bags with me to the store for bulk items.
- I weigh the importance of needing a product if it comes in plastic packaging. Sometimes there’s no alternative (such as when I have an overwhelming urge for kettle chips), but it’s amazing how often I can say no.
- I carry a steel coffee mug with me in the car for when I want a cup of coffee on the road.
- I’ve started making a conscious effort to not buy acrylic clothing.
So how am I doing in walking the walk in reducing plastic in my life? I’m pleased to say that 4 months in, I’d estimate that I’ve reduced my consumption of plastic by almost 50%
What’s my next step on this journey to do my part in showing respect to our beautiful planet Earth? I’ve already reduced the amount of waste I put into the landfill by lowering the amount of packaging that I use, but I’d like to do more. I finally dragged out my compost bucket and I’m vowing to use it religiously (I can be so lazy about composting!). I was going to replace my broken shredder for all of my paper mail, but after reading about the nasty chemicals in the paper and the fact that the paper has absolutely no nutritive value for my compost pile, I’m just going to be more resolute with recycling.
So there you have it. I’m so thank for this beautiful Earth. I’m happy to do these small things to show my respect her. What the Earth give us is huge. She gives us life. These steps are the least I can do. Happy Earth Day!