Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buying Organic vs Conventional Food

A recent video has emerged claiming that the farming required to produce organic foods causes more greenhouse gases then that of conventional farm raised food. This is a result of organic farms producing less product requiring more land to be used for farming. This means occupying more land that could be used to host wildlife and natural habitats. Because this land is so immense the energy required to harvest these foods causes more greenhouse gas emissions. The video describes more information about genetically modified farms versus organic farms. The video can be seen here:

An older article back in 2012 from the Washington Post, also tackled this issue of conventional versus organic farms. The article looks at meta-analysis of the amount of product produced from organic farms versus conventional. The analysis found that organic fruits such as tomatoes had no difference in yield compared to that of conventional foods. It also analyzed organic canola and sunflower seeds finding that there was no difference in the amount of product compared to conventional. According to the analysis however, some conventional vegetable and grain farms did produce more compared to organic farms.

The article does admit that meta-analysis is not a perfect way to study results as it is a compilation of multiple studies. These studies also do not mention some of the other aspects that could result in less product such as pH balance and nitrogen levels. This is something the video fails to discuss.

The article can be viewed here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/the-environmental-footprint-of-organic-vs-conventional-food/2012/09/14/40b16582-fb65-11e1-b2af-1f7d12fe907a_story.html?utm_term=.73f9fc7133ae

What do you think? Will you buy organic or conventional? Perhaps you will do more research and formulate what you think is better for the environment. Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Repair Cafés

Have a broken household item that you can not afford to throw away? Have a favorite sweater that needs sewing, but do not have the skills to fix it? Check your local listings for repair cafés! 

Repair cafés are a new and exciting way where people can bring their broken household items and learn how to repair them for free. Many people volunteer their time at these local cafés to teach people how to fix items from iPad screens to ripped jeans. This is a great way for people to reduce their carbon footprint and participate in a creative way to recycle. Even if you do not have the money to donate or volunteer in environmental practices then this is just one of the many simple ways you can easily stay environmentally and economically smart.  

Here is a quick video showing the beginning of repair cafés along with a sense of how the community of these cafés has evolved. The video is from 2014 and surely by now in 2016 more cafés have emerged.
Here is another video showing the community and the types of skilled individuals you can hope to meet if you participate in one of these cafés. This particular café is in Pasadena, California. 
This is a really neat idea and if you live in Oregon or California there are repair cafés all throughout these states. Reduce, reuse, recycle! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Benefits of Using Glass Packaging

Using packaging made of glass and recycling it is great for the environment and your health. It is 100% recyclable and 80% of it can be reclaimed. Glass can also be used repeatedly without any loss in quality. There is no chemical contamination that comes from using glass products. Glass is also the only packaging material that has been “generally regarded as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration.

Glass is comprised of all natural materials such as sand and limestone, that can be found in abundance in the United States. It is also much easier to clean than other packaging alternatives, and does not contribute to trash that accumulates in landfills or bodies of water in the same way that plastic does. Since it is made of natural ingredients to begin with, it breaks back down to its original form (i.e. sand) over time, without polluting the environment in the process. Ultimately, using recycled glass cuts CO2 emissions. It has been shown that for every six tons of recycled glass that is used, one ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the environment.

One of the main cons of using glass packaging is it’s weight and fragility. Some argue that plastic is more environmentally friendly than plastic due to this factor, but it is the opinion of many that, ultimately, it is what goes into the product in the first place that determines its environmental impacts. Since plastics are are produced from natural gas processing and materials derived from crude oil refining, experts say that glass is the more environmentally sound choice. Another interesting fact to consider is that glass bottles today are 40% lighter today than they were 20 years ago. This ultimately means that it takes less fuel, energy, and emissions to transport glass than in the past.

Unlike plastic, glass packaging does not contain many of the harmful chemicals that are now known to come from the use of plastic packaging, such as BPA (bisphenol A). Glass also has a non-porous surface which in turn means it does not retain as much bacteria as plastic packaging. Since glass has little to no chemical interaction with most other materials, it means that whatever product the glass packaging is holding (if sealed properly) will keep its aroma and flavor intact.

At the end of the day, glass packaging seems to be one of the better choices for the environment. It has been shown that up to 80% of recycled glass can be reclaimed and that recycled glass uses 40% less energy than creating new glass. There is no loss in quality when the glass is recycled and over one ton of natural resources are prevented from entering the air for every six tons of glass that is recycled. There are no wasteful by-products that are produced from using and reusing glass, and once recycled properly, an old glass bottle can be returned to the consumer as a new glass bottle within 30 days.

Sources:


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gotta Start Somewhere

Many people are so stuck in their ways that making a change in their routine sounds impossible. However, with the effect of humans taking a huge toll on the Earth, we have no choice but to examine what we can do to less our impact.

One of the easiest changes that can be made is being sure to group your errands together. This not only saves time, but also lessens the time spent driving your car, which is a huge source of pollution. if your errands don't involve stocking up on groceries or picking up a piece of furniture, there is also a very good chance that you can even do all your errands while using public transportation - even better!





You can even go one step further and change the way you go to work everyday, on top of doing your occasional errands. Many places have carpools you can join. The chart above shows how much that helps. You could also bike or walk, getting your body moving while helping make the air better to breathe!

If you'd like other ways to start making a difference, you can find 12 other ideas here.