An Earth Day Environmenta-List | Seventh Generation
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An Earth Day Environmenta-List

Author: the Inkslinger

Earth Day is fast approaching, and with it the season of the Environmenta-List, those instructions for easy ways to save the planet.  The suggestions that routinely appear, including recycle more and buy energy-efficient light bulbs, certainly help build a healthier world. But to really do the job, we need to change more than light bulbs. We need to change the way we think. With that in mind, here's my own Earth Day list of the Top 5 Things You Can Do To Save the World.

  1. Burn less stuff. This means driving less, turning lights off, and other standard energy-saving strategies. But it's also about distilling global warming to its simplest fundamental so that we can make a meaningful connection between our lifestyles and what's ultimately required to maintain them. So consider all that's ignited and learn not to burn.
  2. Pull your kids away from the TV and into the Great Outdoors. Kids who grow up without appreciating nature can grow into adults who don't understand why they should care about it. Sharing the world's natural wonders is a great way to create tomorrow's environmentalists. Visit national  parks instead of theme parks this summer. Get started here.
  3. Become a life-cycler. Before you buy anything, consider its full life cycle. What's the product made from and where does that stuff come from? How is it manufactured, where is it produced, and what occurs when it is? What happens when you use it? And when it's thrown away? Add up these hidden costs and ask yourself if the price is worth it.
  4. Go loco for local. But expand your definition of "local" to embrace things that are homemade, artisan-produced, used, and borrowed. The idea is to replace our unintentional economic backing of destructive practices, products, and companies with support for local economies, communities, and individuals -- even if they aren't next door. There are other benefits, too. By purchasing handmade items, we spend more but get better quality, which leads to less buying. When we buy used, we meet our needs without using new resources.  And when we borrow or rent, we meet our needs locally without any consumption at all.
  5. Start an eco-meme and share the motivation. A meme is an idea that spreads so energetically that it becomes a self-sustaining cultural influence. Eco-memes have power. A new study from Stanford University, for example, finds that for every 1% increase in solar installations in a given zip code, the time until the next installation occurs drops by 1%. Yes -- environmentalism is infectious. So tell everyone what you're doing and why -- your family, friends, neighbors, newspaper, and elected officials. It'll spread the word, create a bandwagon effect, and put decision-makers on notice. Be friendly and compassionate, not pushy or self-righteous, and share the inspiration with a smile.

If we add these ideas  to the other lists that will be around this Earth Day, we just might get somewhere good. And that's reason enough right there to celebrate on April 22nd.


photo: EraPhernalia Vintage


lpass809 picture
As a vegan for two years I can say for a fact that veganism CAN be cheaper. If you buy fancy vegan food (think processed things like vegan cheese, vegan "meat", etc.) then of course it will be expensive. But let me tell you something, buying rice and dry beans in bulk and shopping at the farmer's market during the summer/fall months costs less than buying Oreos and hamburgers! I isn't the veganism vs. non-veganism as much as it is being thoughtful about what you buy. Also, you would be shocked to learn how much protein is in things you never imagined (broccoli, rice, etc.). Do some research and experiment with your budget/menu before rushing to conclusions.
candices picture
When I read this, the FIRST thought I had was, "Why don't they mention going vegan?" It's likely the most impactful thing you can do environmentally. I was disappointed to see that when someone wrote that in the comments, that person was attacked. Going vegan is a great way to have a positive impact on the environment, regardless of whether you find it inconvenient, expensive, or whatever. Do it or don’t - it won't change the facts. It’s the right thing to do.
Weatherlight picture
Never say recycling can help the environment, because that sounds pushy and self righteous. You should let people have the choice to not recycle, AND CHOICE IS TAKEN AWAY IF YOU SAY THE TRUTH. Huh? As for expensive, the more resource intensive it is, the more expensive it is. And the more niche it is, the more expensive it is. That's why wheat is vegan, widely produced, bought by nearly everyone, and CHEAP. That's why beef is terribly resource-intensive, but government supported and subsidized, widely factory farmed, bought by nearly everyone, and more expensive than wheat. The "niche" key is why wheat protein in the form of a patty is more expensive than a beef patty (at least with mainstream brands in local supermarkets). And "niche" plus "resource intensive" is why baby veal is more expensive than any gluten/soy burger patty you can find. Exactly how many non-veg carbs did you normally eat and how were they cheaper than veg carbs? lol... I know some people are allergic/intolerant to soy, wheat, oats, beans, brassicas, potatoes, squash, etc etc but to say they're all extremely expensive and you're allergic to all of them is bs. (I did hear from one person who actually was allergic to gluten, soy, a bunch of legumes, different types of berries, I think melons even, all sorts of stuff; they went to a nutritionist to make sure they got all their nutrients. I don't know how expensive their food was, but I found their dedication admirable.) So many people are very ignorant about protein and think it only comes from animals and soy *rolls eyes*
ogrewife picture
What?#@ Where on earth did you get that idea? We eat vegetarian and alone that has sky rocketed my monthly budget for three. Trying to get the amount of protein and carbs that we need to keep us satisfied is expensive. Especially with a husband who works out and works on his feet all day. I buy local when I can but local prices are outrageous so when people decide to be FAIR then I will buy more locally. We do what we can but I can not afford to be vegan or buy only local.
shearwater picture
I never bought a vegan patty. Why would you assume I did? But keep your recycled paper, leave out the beef, and the earth will thank you.
silly rabbit picture
silly rabbit
My beef comes fresh wrapped in recycled paper. I was just wondering how much plastic is your processed vegan patty wrapped in?
shearwater picture
Self righteous? I've been listening for decades to weekend environmentalists preaching about recycling, changing lightbulbs, and using low flow showerheads (all of which I do) but which produce a tiny fraction of the benefit my vegan diet does. But I mention a few established facts about animal agriculture and real threats to the environment and people start screaming about compassion. My diet is all about compassion yet the mere mention of it tends to drive some people into a tizzy. I suppose these are the same people who screamed about being forced to separate their recyclables too. The environment is at a critical tipping point. Real answers are needed now. Changing lightbulbs isn't going to do it and driving a Prius while eating meat everyday does more harm than a vegan driving a Hummer. Going vegan is the one significant change any individual can do today without waiting for society or governments to decide to do something and which costs nothing to do. It is in fact cheaper if done right. As a side benefit it helps alleviate hunger in the world, improves our health whereby reducing out of control healthcare costs, and spares animals the tortures they suffer by the billions. I'm glad some people change lightbulbs and drive less and do what they can. But if we are going to save what's left of our natural world, clean air and water, and fellow inhabitants on this planet we need more people to do more now. Sorry if this offends some. But that doesn't change what must be done.
WiseMadonnaOfTheFlies picture
Plant a garden. Plant a native garden, a veggie garden, a garden to support endangered pollinators. It's one the most rewarding experiences a human can have. Growing things and watching life thrive. Oh and here are the 10 best things we can do for animals from Jane Goodall
ladybullis picture
Maybe shearwater needs to read that line again about not being self-righteous when talking about these issues. I feel that everybody has things that they're not willing to give up yet and there are things they can't do yet for the environment - such as buying a hybrid car or installing solar panels. If we all do what we can and continue to reevaluate our lives to push our commitments then things will get done. I will not give up eating meat or driving - but FOR NOW, I will eat significantly less beef and meat altogether, drive less and save for a prius. (just a couple examples) If everybody had to do EVERYTHING now to be a good environmentalist - the movement would be so small that nothing would get done.
shearwater picture
Go Vegan! Last year the UN's second study of animal agriculture's contribution to global warming confirmed their earlier findings - animal agriculture creates more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. They also looked at other effects of animal agriculture and found it's responsible for 70% of freshwater consumption (in the US it's just over 50%) and 38% of total land used worldwide. Just cutting out one hamburger saves 4,000 gallons of water. A vegan can let his or her shower run 24/7 and not waste as much water as a meat eater. Animal agriculture is the fastest growing source of ocean pollution (Pew Oceans Commission), pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined (EPA), uses 80% of all pesticides in the US, and is one of the leading causes of the loss of rainforests (about 1 acre/year for every meat eater in the world). Plus, demand for fish is destroying ocean biodiversity. The US General Accounting Office says that more plant species in the US have been eliminated or threatened by grazing than by any other cause. In areas where grazing is eliminated biodiveristy increases dramatically. Eating vegan also saves more energy than eating local. As it turns out it matters more how food is produced than how far it must be transported. You can say you care about the environment and still eat meat. And BP can say it cares for the Gulf and George W can say he was an environmental president. Saying doesn't equal action. Eliminating animal products from your diet is the best way for an individual to help our environment.