It’s Earth day! While this site has mostly been a collection of my favorite gluten-free recipes, something I’m really passionate about is climate change and caring for the Earth. Maybe it’s from growing up with a father who is an environmental engineer, or a mother who is the best recycler I know (thanks Mom), but it’s ingrained in me. Sometimes Jake jokes that I’m living in WWII trying to save everything, but, really, I can’t help it.
Even if you don’t want to go full head-on like I do (and I’m far from perfect), I have some simple tips to incorporate into your daily routine that can make a difference.
First, lets talk about why. Last year was the warmest year on record. It also boasted the highest CO2 emissions in 3 million years. We are already seeing effects of this change through droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-levels rising. The cause has to do with deforestation, burning fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and cattle produced methane. So while we can’t tackle these big issues on our own, we can support them. We can reduce as much as we can. And we can show Mother Earth love in little ways. Here’s my list. If you have anything to add, I would love to hear!
1. Stop Driving
Easier said than done I KNOW. I also live in a small town where I am fortunate enough to walk everywhere. However my boyfriend commutes an hour to work everyday. He can’t help this as there is no alternate solution. So I’m not suggesting you begin walking an hour a day. Rather, dust off the old bike and think about riding it on the weekends, to dinner, or maybe even to lunch. The fresh air will do you good. Live near a colleague? Carpool! The social time is good for you as well. If there’s a bus or a train, or any type of public transit, start supporting that. Bonus- that book you’ve been wanting to read? Now you have time to read it. It definitely takes a bit of planning and effort, but every little bit counts.
2. Get Rid of Plastic
Pledge right now not to use/buy plastic water bottles. Get yourself a good water bottle (affiliate link) and bring it everywhere. Your water bottle is now an extension of you. Stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. Keep some in your trunk and use them! Finally, no more ziploc bags. Stasher bags, as I’ve talked about before, are amazing. They freeze, they go in the dishwasher, they stay sealed. I love them. Use the code KARLCOOKS15 for 15% off (this is not sponsored, I just love them). To that end, swap glass tupperware for plastic wrap and stop using the plastic bags for your fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
3. Eat Less Meat
It’s indisputable that cows release methane that is hurting our ozone layer. You do not have to be vegan, or even vegetarian. Rather, start reducing the amount of meat you’re consuming. Try out meatless monday. Try eating vegetarian breakfast and lunch, and enjoying sustainable meat for dinner. Eat plants, instead of feeding them to animals, and we will need less acreage and less energy, which results in a cleaner (and cooler!) environment. Instead of feeding corn and beans to chickens, pigs, and cows, we can make corn into corn bread, tortillas, soups, or polenta and turn beans into chili, burritos, or veggie burgers. If you’re worried about protein, there are many brands creating delicious vegan alternatives. A favorite of mine is lightlife– I love their tempeh because it’s gluten-free! (I used it to make this and this). However, they also make hot dogs, chicken, beef, deli meat, sausage, and even jerky. You can find them at your local grocery store.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle
You’ve heard the 3 R’s before, but here we go. Reduce! Turn the water off, take a shorter shower, turn off the lights and start using less electricity- read, go for a walk, drink wine with a friend. Reuse- MY FAVORITE! Old jelly jars? Put them in the dishwasher and start storing your spices in them. Get take-out in a plastic container? It happens, but now you can re-use it to send your friend home with leftovers, or bring to lunch. Recycle- look up your area’s recycling guidelines (these are mine). Find out what can and can not be recycled, get a bin, and commit to doing it.
5. Lead By Example
The simplest, yet maybe the most important tip. A big reason we are in this mess, is the culture of not caring. Maybe we weren’t aware of the impact we were having on the environment. Much like smoking in the 1960s, you can’t be faulted if you don’t have all of the information. However, now we know. We universally know smoking is bad, and now we know that we are directly hurting the environment through carbon emissions. And there’s time to turn it around, however incrementally that may be. Join a people’s climate change march. Implement the tips above. Do not preach to people, just show them with your actions. Buy locally grown food and products. Bonus if they are made from recycled materials. Plant a tree, buy some plants. Be mindful and intentional with your actions, and it will make a difference.