Green Beginnings

  1. Bring your own shopping bags. Plastic bags are the second most prevalent form of litter after cigarette butts, and over 4 billion bags get caught by the wind and end up clogging storm drains and littering our forests, rivers, lakes, beaches and oceans every year. Plastic bags are also known to kill over a million birds and hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, seals, and other marine mammals every year. The bags are made of petroleum-based polyethylene and require 12 million barrels of oil to produce each year—a nonrenewable resource that creates more greenhouse gases and increases our dependency on foreign oil. That’s over $500,000,000 that we’re spending on oil, just to throw it away.
  2. Cook from scratch. From farm to factory to store to table, processed, packaged convenience foods are dripping in wasted energy, oil, water and trees. This is especially tragic, since processed foods contain little to no nutrition, and usually have to be sweetened, fortified, preserved and to be edible. Batch cooking on weekends, meal planning, and cookbooks specializing in easy, fast preparation can make cooking from scratch much easier. Having something home-cooked in the freezer is invaluable for those nights when you are just too tired or too harried to cook. Take the opportunity this spring to slow down, spend time with family or friends, and enjoy taking care of yourself and your family.
  3. Eat organic as much as possible. Organic costs a bit more up front, but this is money well spent because your food will be more nutritious and you won’t have to worry about eating GMOs, toxic pesticides, or sewage sludge. You can get organic food cheaply if you join a CSAstart a buying club, visit the farmer’s market at the end of the day when they are trying to get rid of everything, or wait for and stock up during sales. Of course, starting an organic garden is perhaps the best way to reduce your food costs and improve your nutrition. You actually need less than an acre of land to grow all you need to eat!
  4. Eat better meat, and eat a lot less of it. Whether you feed the grain to livestock or people doesn’t matter. An industrially farmed corn or soybean monoculture is a major source of greenhouse gases, air, water and GMO pollution either way. But a permanent grassland ecosystem is a biodiverse, ever-cycling pump that continuously pushes carbon back into the soil where it increases fertility and builds topsoil. The irony of all of this is that the very prairie we destroyed to grow grains to feed livestock not only released most of the carbon dioxide that harms our climate today, but was already the perfect, natural habitat for raising healthy, happy cows, sheep, chickens and pigs virtually for free.
    According to a Scientific American article “Future Farming: A Return to Roots?”, healthy grassland can sequester substantially more carbon dioxide from the air than even rainforests can. Because of this, scientists and sustainable ranchers alike see managed holistic grazing on restored, permanent prairie as the very best solution to desertification, air and water pollution, and even climate change. So this spring, resolve to eat clean, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat, dairy and eggs whenever possible, and make a big difference for small farmers and the environment by supporting pasture restoration with your wallet.