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Eating Less (or no) Meat is Better for the Planet

20 Jun

Read Time Magazine's article: "Should We All Be Vegetarians?"

There are a lot of reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet. Many people feel that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is simply healthier, and there is a lot of information to back this up. In fact, eating too much meat is far less healthy that no meat at all, and The Guardian reports that meat-eaters are at higher risk for cancer. Others object philosophically to eating animals at all, and/or the conditions and treatment of animals in slaughterhouses and factory farms. These places are not only horrible in the treatment of animals (we’ve all heard about the conditions and animals that never walk or move) – but they often use a lot of chemicals and unsanitary practices, as well as creating high levels of pollution, which are very unhealthy for the human consumers of this food.

Another reason that people eat vegetarian is the implication of meat-eating on our planet – both the earth and its people. In simple economic terms, it requires far more resources to raise and produce red meat than it does poultry; and more for poultry than fish; etc. Basically, the larger the animal the more resources it takes to produce it. It takes 10,000 kg of wheat to produce 1,000 kg of beef, which feeds 15 adults. Conversely, only 1,000 kg of wheat can directly feed 15 adults. And Americans consume 60% more meat than Europeans. Continue reading

Major Anti-Green Culprits: Cars and E-Waste

15 Jun

I’ve talked about everyday household and personal products, and ways to go greener and healthier (while saving money) on those. Today I will talk about some of the other areas in which sustainability practices make a huge difference in our impact on the planet’s resources: Automobiles and E-waste.

Car Use

This is a big area for most of us in our everyday lives. Our gasoline consumption in the U.S. is nearly six times higher per capita than Europe, and almost 30 times higher than developing countries! While switching to a more fuel-efficient car is clearly a big step in the right direction, there are many other things I have learned to be more conscious of an incorporate into my daily routine to improve in this area. Driving habits can improve your efficiency and maintain your car longer. Continue reading

Green Beauty on a Budget (with Recipes!)

10 Jun

Last week I wrote about ways you can make your own cleaning products, that are not only natural and much healthier for your home and family – but cost just a fraction of store-bought products also.

Well, if there was ever one area with high prices and profit margins, a 20-billion dollar industry where you can save incredible money doing it yourself, it is the beauty and skincare market. Not only are a large percentage of these products made with chemicals, sometimes tested on animals, and often unsafe for the workers in the industry (many in or from third-world countries) – it’s an industry that also charges you heftily for its products.

Some rights reserved by What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?

I’m not going to pretend, I’m as much a sucker for some of it as the next girl. I’m often willing to splurge on feel-good, take-care items, and these sorts of products are the kinds of things I tend to pamper myself with. I’m a big fan of Origins and Burt’s Bees, so I am the last person to suggest (or be willing to) completely forego them.

Continue reading

The Myth of Recycling

6 Jun

Don’t get me wrong. Recycling isn’t a bad thing. I recycle everything I can – we all should.

But it can create a trap that we fall into, where we think that just because something can be recycled, it’s okay to buy it. We use more plastics, more cardboard, more glass, more aluminum – and feel guilt-free when we toss them all into the recycling bin.

We need to remember that there are THREE Rs, and the other two should always come before recycling whenever possible:

Reduce

Reuse

Recycle

7 Misconceptions about Plastic Recycling

Don’t let recycling lull you into a false sense of complacency so that, instead of first reducing your consumption and then reusing everything you can, you just buy more stuff as long as you can recycle it. First of all, there can be problems with recycling. Contrary to what you might think, not everything that gets put into a recycling bin necessarily gets recycled. And what does get recycled still uses a lot of energy and resources to actually recycle the material. Continue reading

Greener Cleaning Practices (& Healthier Too!)

3 Jun

In reading up on various ways and areas of my life where I can improve my sustainability, I have been very happy to note that in the categories of work/office, electronics, health & beauty and fashion, I am pretty darn green. In household and food areas, I practice a lot of sustainable habits but have learned about so many more that can be easily incorporated.

George Frey for The New York Times

One area that was a huge concern to me, the more I read about it, was all the cleaners that we use. Did you know that, in spite of pollution, the air inside the average American home is five to ten times more toxic than the air outside? Indoor air is typically contaminated by between 20 and 150 different pollutants – most of which come from petroleum based cleaners. (I will add this to my easy Rule of P’s – avoid Plastics, individual/excessive Packaging, Processed foods, and now Petroleum based products).

These are so dangerous that the New York Times recently ran an article about it. Not only that, but they are actually less effective than those made naturally and organically. There must be a reason why S.C. Johnson & Son has recently announced that they are putting out a new version of Windex that contains vinegar instead of ammonia – but it can’t be because that and other chemicals are bad for you, can it? Continue reading

How Living Sustainably Saves Big Money

30 May

Ever since “being green” became more mainstream and trendy over the past decade, it’s naturally followed that companies and advertisers have gotten on the bandwagon to create products and services that capitalize on this trend – for a price. When you look at it from a marketing standpoint, it sometimes seems as if it costs a lot more money to live in a more eco-friendly way. There’s all the new stuff to buy, and these products are often more expensive than the previous, traditional ones.

But with a little education and awareness, you can avoid this. First of all, along with the very good aspect of more consumer awareness about sustainable living, comes the not-so-good “greenwashing” that’s been happening more and more: companies that just throw in a few terms or some little thing that doesn’t really make a difference, in order to market themselves as environmentally friendly when they really aren’t – again, at a price of course.

The reality is that living sustainably isn’t new or trendy – it’s extremely old-fashioned. Continue reading

How Many Earths are we Using?

27 May

So here I am, in the first week of my new 30-Day Project: Green Living and Sustainability. It seems these days that everyone (or at least most everyone who is conscious about their life) wants to improve their lifestyle habits to become more eco-friendly and make less of a footprint on our planet for future generations, other species and general health – and I am no exception.

I think I have had a pretty decently green lifestyle over the past number of years. I do the big things that a lot of us do – I recycle virtually everything I can, use low-flow showerheads and toilets, buy and eat local quite a bit, use energy-saving lightbulbs, drive a small efficient car and consolidate my trips in it, etc. Last month I moved into a new place which is incredibly low-impact: the 24-unit community property was built with energy efficiency in mind, is extremely low maintenance with concrete walls and floors and a metal roof, has native drought-resistant landscaping and even a rainwater collection system for outside water. Yet I feel that there’s probably much more I could be doing. Continue reading