You know I love Earth Day- of course I do. But you know what I love more? Earth Month. I'm also a big fan of Earth Year and you bet Earth Life has a very special spot in my heart.
I love that companies jump on board for Earth Day and take on clean-up activities around their workspace, hop on over to local creeks and streams to collect litter, encourage people to bike to work, and make that extra effort to do their part. This brings important awareness to the many ways our daily habits can be shifted, even the slightest, to have some sweet impact in reducing our impact.
But what happens to the other 364 days? Those don't count? That's a bit like saying you can eat fast food burgers all year and take on your annual juice cleanse and expect it to have a lasting effect on your health.
UnDiet is of course all about eating and living. The planet is a part of that. There is a chapter called "There Is No Away", inspired by this blog post, where I talk about the waste we make, without thinking, simply in our day-to-day living, assuming that when we throw it "away" it magically disappears.
In UnDiet I share the following staggering stats:
A lot of the garbage we’re making comes in three very avoidable forms: paper, plastic, and food. The United States wastes the most food, which has an environmental impact globally. According to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the United States generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year. (1) Holy shmizer! In Canada, it is estimated that 27 billion dollars worth of food ends up in landfills each year. (2) According to World Vision Canada, the residents in the city of Toronto alone toss out 16.5 million pounds (7.5 million kilograms) of food every month. (3)
Food waste is more than 14 percent of the total municipal solid waste. Even more shameful is that less than 3 percent of the 34 million tons of food waste created in 2009 was recovered and recycled. That means that 33 million tons were trucked off to the place we call “away.” (4) Food waste now represents the single largest component of municipal landfills and incinerators in the United States. Following close behind, for your interest, are yard scraps (which could be reduced if we all just planted edible gardens) and plastic. In the average American home, each week 12 percent of meat, 16 percent of grains and nearly one quarter of fruits and vegetables are tossed out. The cost of that averages out to be over 43 billion dollars worth of food waste annually. (5) Oyegevuletshane! As if that weren’t bad enough, 18 percent of vegetables that are grown, don’t even make it to the stores before they perish. (6)
So then, what can you do?
Here are three key ways to cut done on your impact, improve your health and do a little something for the earth 365 days!
- Buy in Bulk and Avoid all individually packaged items. Buy the largest size package over single servings. It’s only a myth that it’s easier and quicker to pack an individual granola bar over a handful of pretzels, and, it’s not only healthier, but you will be surprised when you add up the financial savings.
- Buy Fresh and organic and local, as much you can. It improves the nutritional quality of your food and you’ll find that it tastes better, too. The real trick is to shop somewhere other than a “super” market, since not only are they not super, but they are often more expensive than your neighbourhood health food store, or farmers’ market.
- Stop Making Garbage. This is even more important than recycling…why use in the first place? A waste-free lunch means you have no packaging to throw away when you’re done — nothing other than apple cores, banana and orange peels or cherry pits.
Ready for more green living inspiration?
- Try this Awesometown brown bagging lunch option
- Check out these super fantastic snack containers
- Make your own beauty products
- Eat more vegetables
- Stop buying toxic homecare products
- Always remember, there is no away!
How do you make every day Earth Day in your home?
1. “Basic Information about Food Waste,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last updated February 8, 2012, http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm.
2. Martin Gooch, Abdel Felfel, and Nicole Marenek, Food Waste in Canada,(Guelph: Value Chain Management Centre, 2010), [pg. 2], http://www.valuechains.ca/documents/Food%20Waste%20in%20Canada%20120910.pdf.
3. “What a Waste: The Food We Throw Away,” World Vision Canada [Access Date: November 12, 2011], http://www.worldvision.ca/Education-and-Justice/advocacy-in-action/Pages/what-a-waste-the-food-we-throw-away.aspx.
4. “Basic Information about Food Waste,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, [Access Date: November 12, 2011 http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm
5. Timothy W. Jones, “Using Contemporary Archaeology and Applied Anthropology to Understand Food Loss in the American Food Stystem”Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology University of Arizona, Report to the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2004