Love thy planet
Apr 21, 2012 / 5:00 am
Sunday is Earth Day. I know we just had Earth Hour, and you just did spring cleaning and recycled and you’re feeling like it never quits… well, you’re right, it doesn’t. We are the stewards of this place, and just like the dust bunnies behind the sofa never stop reappearing, neither does the garbage that we leave or the water bottles that we keep buying. There are more and more of us on this same old planet, so we need to work harder at taking care of it, not thinking it will renew itself like our BCAA membership. I apologize if you thought this week’s column was going to lead you gently into your day; this week I am ranting – but for a good cause…
Do you drink bottled water? Did you know that it takes about 2000 times as much energy to produce a bottle of water as it does to produce a litre of tap water? And just so you know, many experts say that most of the tap water in our part of the world is better quality than some bottled waters, and better regulated, too.
Do you recycle the bottle? If you do, thanks so very much. You are one of about 15-20% of people who do; the rest end up in the landfill.
Did you know that in North America we waste about 40% of the food produced? That is the figure you get when you count the food that is thrown out in restaurants and grocery stores, and the waste that occurs from food that needs to be altered (like those carrots that get made smaller because we like them that shape, or the oddly shaped items that are culled because we just won’t buy them if they look funny). The figure is similar in third world countries, but that is usually because food cannot be transported in good condition to survive the distance to markets. It spoils, it is less often “wasted”. Here’s a final thought on this topic for you- in Korea, as of 2013 they will have a system in place that will charge people for the food they waste. You see, there is little landfill space there (and virtually no way to compost in urban areas), so they have to put better controls to encourage people to minimize waste. People will have another type of garbage bin for food waste, and once they deposit any food scraps the bin will tell them how much they owe based on the weight of what is deposited. How’s that for a portion control program?
Okay, would you like some positive suggestions to end on a happy note? Here are some things you are likely already doing and hopefully a few new ideas for “precycling”… it’s the new trend, thinking of how you can reduce or re-use in advance, changing your habits in a proactive manner.
Look for reduced packaging – buy bulk, use your own lunch bags and plastic containers instead of Ziploc bags or plastic wrap
Try buying second-hand, or donating things you don’t need to a thrift store
Put your water in a re-usable steel or BHA-free plastic water bottle (I keep one in the car for drinking on the road, and I can take it with me if I have a meeting)
Wash laundry in cooler or cold water – look for detergents that are low in phosphates and suited for colder water
Put blinds or UV filter film on windows before the summer heat, to reduce the work for your air conditioner
(I couldn’t resist) Buy local food – reduce the carbon footprint of having it shipped from somewhere else. Better yet, if you can, grow your own. Many veggies can be grown in pots on a balcony, and your kids will learn that carrots are not grown all polished and scrubbed !
If you make any effort at all, pat yourself on the back. It all helps. Every bit we do makes a difference. The more we support companies that make a difference and put pressure on the ones who don’t (like the egg companies that sell their product in Styrofoam cartons) the more impact we create. And if you are stuck with a plastic water bottle and want to re-use it, check out my blog this week for a cool article I found on how to make your own lava lamp with it! (no kidding)
Read more Happy Gourmand articles
- A foodie kind of day in the Okanagan May 11
- A day in the life of an Okanagan foodie May 4
- Slow and sweet Apr 27
- Do you have to eat dirt on Earth Day? Apr 20
- Recipes across the miles Apr 13
- Haggis, neeps & tatties Apr 6
- Foolish food Mar 30
- Good food, good friends Mar 23
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