Three Earth Day Tips for Giving Back

Image: lindsay.dee.bunny via Flickr

This is a guest post by Tricia Enns, owner of Branch Out Bakery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She is also the coordinator of Ottawa’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

Earth Day is on April 22 this year and we are all thinking a little bit more green, but being environmentally-friendly is about so much more than sporting organic threads or eco-logos on the outside. It has a lot to do with what we put on the inside, too. Food is fuel, comfort, and an everyday action that has huge impacts on the environment and other individuals. What do you want your impact to be?

This post could go on for days, but really, who wants to read that? Instead, I’ve listed three simple steps for how to engage with your (delicious) food AND be a local Captain Planet. Check it out:

Step 1: Limit or Eliminate Animal Products

If you’re not already eating a plant-based diet, let me assure you I do not expect you to drop your hamburger just because I tell you to. More likely, you may drop it because you found out that it required 1550 liters of water to produce the beef in your burger. You would have to eat 5 kg of potatoes to consume the same amount of water (production of potatoes consumes 287 L/kg). That’s a lot of potatoes! Lets also take a quick look at the production of CO2. The beef in that burger produces 4 kg of CO2 compared to only 0.2 kg of CO2 if that burger was made of soy. However, even if you don’t drop your burger, it’s important to be informed so that you can make the best choices for you.

Image: IBM

If you’re already eating a vegan diet, congrats! If not, this information can be shared with anyone who wants help transitioning to a more veg-friendly lifestyle. If giving up meat doesn’t seem like an option for them or you, consider taking little steps in the right direction and reducing consumption of animal products to one meal a day, week, or month.

Whatever the case, the elimination of animal products from our diet is one of the easiest way to reduce our environmental impact.

Step 2: Shift your perspective from “Is it organic?” to “Who grows and/or makes this?”

More and more, it has been found that the label “organic” does not necessarily mean organic.

Image: MSU

For that reason, the best way to know where your food comes from, how it was grown, produced and created, is by actually knowing who made it. Phone up a farmer, and find a time to visit their farm. Order baked goods from a local baker and ask them how they source their ingredients, packaging, etc.

Also, check out the Cornucopia Institute, they are a great organization that supports organic while being highly critical of the current certification process.

Step 3: Get Involved and Stay Informed As Much as Your Life Allows

We all have different stressors in our lives. Don’t feel like you have to do everything! You don’t. Some people have children, some have student loans they need to pay off, and some people naturally have more energy than others. However, we all have a role to play. There IS something YOU can do!

  1. Buy your vegetables, baked goods, and beer from local producers you know and have a relationship with (like at farmer’s markets and independent stores).
  2. Demand fair-trade tea, coffee, bananas, chocolate, sugar, and more.
  3. Host a “local foods” themed potluck.
  4. Paint a sign encouraging others to think about food and the environment and stick it in your front yard.
  5. Attend or contribute to your local Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale this month. Find a bake sale near you today!

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