Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saving the world, one meal at a time

They say the little things add up, so while I didn't do anything major to mark Earth Day, the things I did do are easy enough that anyone can do them, too.

1. My office has a large window, so I kept the lights turned off for most of the day. (I tend to do that most days when it is sunny).

2. My workplace had planned (on my suggestion, blush) a book swap. Staff were encouraged to bring in books they no longer want, or take something they wanted to read. We actually planned this to coordinate with a big literary festival in our city, to encourage literacy, and it was a sheer coincidence that the first day of our book fair was Earth Day. (Get it? Re-using and recycling?) Anyway, I took in more than sixty books this morning -- okay, for me personally it was also about decluttering!-- and I plan to do a second sweep in the house tonight and come up with at least twenty more.

3. Going to live by my beloved candle light tonight, and keep the electric lights off.

4. I had leftovers for dinner tonight. Now, this one may be subtle, but it is still a part of living greener. So often in our house we have a portion or two of whatever we had for dinner left. I always save it in a Tupperware...and about a week later, I end up throwing it out because we didn't get around to eating it. Well, tonight I used leftover steak to make a wicked good sandwich, and I want to talk about that steak for a minute, to really reinforce how important it is to eat leftovers....I'm about to get long and preachy, but hell, it's my blog. And I think this is important, because all of my friends admit to leftovers frequently ending up in their trash, too.

For the sake of argument, let's say I bought Steak A, cooked it for dinner and there was enough left for another meal, but, instead of eating what was leftover another time, I bought Steak B for my next meal. And to make the illustration easier, let's say that these two steaks came from two different cows (I SWEAR this will be relevant in a minute.)

I just created double the landfill from purchasing two foam trays and plastic wrap. I just wasted the power from cooking another steak, instead of quickly heating up the leftovers or even eating it cold. I just compromised all of the resources used to grow and process the first cow, by not using all of it: I wasted part of the water and grain the animal ate, part of the electricity for slaughter, gasoline for transport, electricity for refrigeration, etc. I could go on forever, even down to the fact that my next grocery receipt will waste more paper and ink when it rings in Steak B.... all precious resources I could have saved by simply eating my leftovers. And left's not forget that, hello? Leftovers means I'm not wasting my money on groceries I don't need.

I feel like Dennis Miller saying, "I don't mean to get off an a rant here...", but I do want you to consider the larger ramifications of even the slightest change you make in your every day life. It is true that each of us can only make the slightest ripple in the water, but together we make a tsunami.

Happy Earth Day.

Edited to note: I also understand that eliminating animal protein from my diet completely, by becoming a vegetarian or vegan, would have a much LARGER impact on the environment. But, umm, never gonna happen. So I will do my part, my way. Make sure you do yours.

No comments: