How many of your daily calories come from meat? If it's a lot (or, as some see it, if it's any at all), you might want to reconsider how much you consume. Why? Because calorie for calorie, the planet takes a much bigger hit with meat than fruits, vegetables, and grains.
As I look at events over the last couple of years (the financial crisis, etc.), it seems more obvious than ever that the status quo isn't working. It also seems like one potential silver lining to all of this economic implosion is that it might just force people to start looking seriously at alternatives to "the way things are" that most of us have known our entire lives.
One question keeps looping through my mind. What does a sustainable economy look like? While surfing online and exploring the answer to that question, I ran across these community plans on the Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy site.
While they focus on the question, "How do we thrive in a post-petroleum world," they might just as well be answering, "How do we create a sustainable economy?"
They're lengthy, but worth reading if you have the time.
I've been feeling like the topsy turvy economy might be just what's needed to shake things up so the pieces come down in a more sustainable way. Here's an interesting article outlining 7 fixes from the Green Economy.
You wouldn't think a Microsoft VP would find himself running to catch the bus to work on a regular basis, but at least one of them does. And he would like to see others do the same. Dan Treadwell is a fan of creative commuting.
David Treadwell runs to catch the bus — and with purpose. It's part of his "exercise commute."
A resident of Queen Anne and a vice president at Microsoft in
Redmond, Treadwell faces a long daily commute over the car-choked and
pedestrian-unfriendly Evergreen Floating Bridge. That makes him seem
like the unlikeliest of candidates to choose running as his favored
mode of getting to and from work.
Yet, he does it. The bus gets him across the span — but running
several miles to and from the bus makes up the exercise portions of his
He started doing this two years ago and has since persuaded a few
other commuters to incorporate exercise into their commute at least
once or twice a week.
When it comes to buying carbon offsets to neutralize the amount of CO2 our energy consumption creates, all options are not created equal. Here's an article in The Seattle Times with some tips on making an informed, effective choice about your carbon offsets purchase.
The tips include...
Peek behind the curtain. Don't accept claims of carbon-offset providers at face value. Ask questions: Who are their partners and endorsers? Do they undergo independent audits to confirm that the money helps the right projects? How do their prices compare with other providers? Which industry standards do they use?
No double-dipping. Make sure a carbon-offset provider's projects offer what is known in the industry as "additionality." In other words, they should not be projects that would have happened anyway without the funding from carbon offsets (such as projects mandated by a government).
Think twice about trees. While they may help the environment in other ways, tree-planting or reforestation projects are the most controversial types of carbon-offset projects. Trees absorb CO2, but scientists disagree on the effectiveness of tree-planting to reduce global warming.
Look in your own backyard. When carbon-offset providers or projects have Northwest roots, you may have more of a connection and greater accountability.
Power up. You can also "think globally and act locally" by joining the green power programs offered by local utilities.
First things first. Before you invest in carbon offsets or green power, make sure you've done all you can to reduce your environmental impact: Drive less, insulate your home, install energy-efficient appliances and buy less stuff. Carbon offsets will never replace good old-fashioned conservation.
If you're from the US and the environment is a major factor in your voting decisions, you may just want to stay away from John McCain, at least according to the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard:
The scorecards, which rank individual U.S. legislators based on
their votes on environmental issues, focused on 15 votes this year--all
of which senator McCain missed, resulting in a 0% score.
candidates historically suffer from absenteeism, due to busy campaign
schedules that keep them away from Washington. However, Obama and
Clinton both missed only 4 environmental votes, and received scores of
67% and 73% respectively.
McCain's lifetime average, as scored by LCV, is 24%, far below Obama's 86% lifetime average and Clinton's 87% lifetime average.
Besides the feelgood factor, is there a compelling reason for companies to go green? According to a new study, the answer to that is a resounding yes.
U.S. workers favor green companies, and green companies have higher performance, according to two new studies.
new report reviewing buyer preferences and the performance of green
brands found that top performing companies with strong green practices
have three times more customer satisfaction than poor performers, as
well as 4.7 times more employee satisfaction and 1.7 times more revenue
"Business people have worried about the cost of
being green," said Peter Brockmann, President of Brockmann &
Company, the consulting firm that released the report. "We provide
evidence that companies that focus on recycling in the office, reducing
energy consumption in the office and use video conferencing or
telepresence technologies intensively, also have higher customer
satisfaction, higher employee satisfaction and higher revenues per
Not only do companies with a green approach yield more satisfaction and higher performance, they're also in line with what employees say they want, according to another recent study.
In a separate survey, commissioned by National Geographic magazine,
more than 80% of U.S. workers polled said they believe it is important
to work for a company or organization that makes the environment a top
priority. Yet, only 53% currently work for a company or organization
that implements environmental or sustainable programs in the workplace,
the poll revealed.
I've never been a big fan of the idea of GMO's (genetically modified organisms), but if I'm honest, I have to say that has been more of a knee-jerk opinion than a well-informed view.
I'm reading Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply right now, which is offering up a generous helping of the cons of GMO's. I wanted to start getting a better picture of what both sides of the argument are saying so I can develop a better-informed opinion, so I started doing some research.
Here are some of the articles I ran across with outlining the pros and cons of genetically modified food.
Seattle, where I live, has one of the highest per capita boat ownership rates in the world. Spending time out on the water can be a wonderful way to connect with nature, but from nasty paints to spilled fuel, it can also wreak havoc on the environment. If you love your boat, but want to make the experience as low-impact as possible, here's a great page chock full of eco-friendly boating tips.
If you're in the US and you want to try your hand at both eating local and eating food that's in season, here's a great seasonal eating guide on The Sustainable Table that maps out in-season produce by state.
Why eat local and in-season? As the site puts it...
By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate
the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands
of miles, your food dollar goes directly to the farmer,
and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity
to try new foods and to experiment with seasonal recipes.
And it simply tastes better!