Food & Beverages
There are few people who don't enjoy the occasional chocolate indulgence. Unfortunately though, cacao grows in rainforests – the most diverse and fragile ecosystems on our earth. Next time you buy chocoloate, consider a fair-trade chocolate from companies that are responsible stewards of the land and fair to the workers who are harvesting.
"Avoid pesticides by buying organic, especially apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, and strawberries (anything with a thick rind skin is somewhat safer). Also, use alternatives to chemical pesticides in your home and garden and advocate for pesticide reduction in local green spaces."
One man-made, chlorinated, industrial chemical that is used in electrical transformers, hydraulic fluids, and lubricants that was banned in the 1970s still persists in the environment today, building up at the bottoms of bodies of water and in the fatty tissues of fish and other animals that we consume. So, take precautions by figuring out safe and unsafe fish!
Are you planning a big bash in the near future? Do you host the holiday party for your family every year? How about the Super Bowl? This year, work to skip the disposables and look for renewable and biodegradable party products (plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery made from things like cornstarch, potatoes and sugarcane)!
Eliminate plastic bags, plastic utensils, disposable containers, paper napkins, and those brown paper bags by choosing a reusable lunchbox, reusable drink containers, cloth napkins, and silverware.
We all throw around the term "organic." But do you actually know what it means? If something is dubbed organic, that means it is produced without synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms. All products that use the term "organic" must be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Green your pet's dinner by choosing all-natural food that contains hormone-free chicken, beef, or fish. You can also cook for your pet with organic and free-range ingredients. There are many recipes on the Internet. If you are a vegetarian, consider a pet such as a bird that is also a vegetarian. (But, no fancy, tropical birds – leave them in the rainforests!)
Trying to avoid commercial cough syrup? Try a couple of teaspoons of honey! Make sure, though, you never give honey to infants under the age of 12 months.
Did you lose track of time and forget to carve your Halloween jack-o-lantern? Try baking a pumpkin pie with it, or at the very least, cut it open and bake the seeds! They are tasty and a great source of minerals and protein. Don't forget to compost your leftovers!
Consider buying food, especially fruits and vegetables, from small-scale operations and local farmers. In addition to supporting local economies, you will reduce your carbon footprint since your food will travel fewer miles to get to you.
Plant a garden of yummy foods this year, or join a community garden if you don't have land to plant your own garden. Do some research on what will grow best in your area and be on the lookout for other gardening tips!
Tailgating and Super Bowl parties, as well as other gameday events, can generate lots of waste. Go green during your tailgating adventures by bringing food and beverages that are from local producers or contain local ingredients, using compostable and/or biodegradable utensils and plates, and sharing your ideas and connections with your fellow tailgaters.
Consider shopping at a food co-op to take advantage of great deals on locally grown and organic food. Food co-ops also offer tons of options in bulk!
Consider preserving some of the bounty of the harvest of your or someone else's garden! Pickling, preserving, and canning are all great ways to eat "local" during the winter months when, in Iowa, we can't have gardens!
Americans use more than 14 billion paper cups each year, which is enough to circle the world 55 times. Styrofoam cups will stay on the planet for nine generations, enough time for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren to be born.
If you are planning a New Year's Party, consider purchasing organic or biodymanic bubbly (bonus points if it is locally made)!
Did you know that a propane or electric grill burns cleaner than one that uses charcoal? If you do choose to use charcoal though, make sure that you are using lump brands from invasive tree species or harvested from sustainably managed forests. Additionally, consider using a chimney starter to light your fire rather than lighter fluid. This is simply a metal cylinder that you fill with charcoal to create a "chimney effect."