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Earth Day Sensibility

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On this Earth Day weekend, everyone is sharpening their recycling skills and seeking words of wisdom for living a greener life.

Hopefully the habits people think about today carry on throughout the remainder of our days, and not just at this time of year where you can find many written topics, books, articles, and related events and gatherings.

Here are my thoughts for Earth Day and every day:

  • Instead of just recycling, think about how you can buy and acquire less things that need to be recycled in the first place.

Instead of using plastic more than once (which is dangerous because of BPA that can leach into your food or drinks), use glass containers, and use them over and over again. If you buy products that are contained in glass, save those and use them. I re-use glass bottles, such as the Lakewood Organic unsweetened cranberry juice bottles I buy regularly for continual detoxification which I add to my daily drinking water, and for many other uses.

  • Consume less!

Instead of going to the store and buying something new, go for a walk or a bike ride, or prepare a home-made meal and go on a picnic with family or friends. Instead of going out to a movie, stay home and play a board game with loved ones. Instead of spending time on your computer or in front of the television, start a project with a family member like building or creating something, repairing something, or cooking.

Consider a canning or jarring project to make use of a plentiful amount of fruits or vegetables from your’s or someone else’s garden.

  • Instead of buying products to make your life “easier”, find ways to create home-made versions of those same items.

You can make use of common household items for cleaners, body oils, shampoos, deodorants, and many others. Use a vinegar and water dilution for an all-purpose cleaner – sinks, toilets, counters, faucets, floors, mirrors, cupboards, tubs and showers, refrigerators and other household appliances, walls, and any other surface that needs cleaning. Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar work equally as well and you can experiment to see which you prefer. Olive oil and a bit of lemon juice can be used for furniture polish in a spray bottle.

Many different types of oils are great for moisturizing your hands and body – coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, and apricot kernal oil are just a few examples. You can add essential oils to them for a pleasant aroma. Always check to be sure your oils are food grade and appropriate for topical application as some are very potent and can cause irritation to the skin.

  • Remove as much plastic (and petroleum) as possible from your home.

Replace plastic with metal, wood, ceramic, glass, parchment paper, wax paper, bamboo, wool, cotton, and other safe materials. If you look around your home, you will be surprised at how many petroleum-based products you have in your house. You will also find many other toxic ingredients (petroleum included) in many personal care products you use every day – shampoos, conditioners, lip balms (think Chap-stick or Vaseline), lotions, sunscreens, moisturizers, toothpaste, shaving products, and many more.

  • Be on the lookout for products with parabens and emulsifiers.

Parabens are chemicals used by the beauty, health, and pharmaceutical industries to make products last longer on the shelf. You will often see them listed as “methylparabens”, “propylparabens”, “ethylparabens”, or “butylparabens”. These substances are hormonal disruptors and are known to cause an excess of estrogen in the body which can lead to cancerous development.

Emulsifiers are chemicals that bind the product together for consistency so the product can be dispersed evenly upon use or application. They are especially effective at keeping oil from clumping together in products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep: Cosmetics Database is a great resource to find safe products, if you choose to buy instead of make your own.

  • Support sustainable, local agriculture.

When food doesn’t have to be transported many miles away, the carbon footprint is much less than meat you buy in a package from the grocery store (which could have been shipped from 1000 miles away).

  • Buy seasonal.

By purchasing seasonal foods, you are reducing the amount of not-so-seasonal foods that are shipped around the world. Again, this reduces the carbon footprint by not needing more petroleum and other resources.

  • Buy pasture-raised and grass-fed meats, poultry, dairy, and dairy products.

Meat products, poultry, dairy, and dairy products from conventional sources or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are not friendly for the environment. They produce sickening amounts of toxic waste just to stay in operation. The animals stand around in manure, become sick from consuming toxic, genetically-modified feed coated in pesticides, are administered hormones and antibiotics, and get little to no opportunity to eat grass and roam around in the sunshine. This produces food products that are inherently bad for humans and bad for the environment. In sharp contrast, animals living naturally on pasture contribute around 40 percent less greenhouse-gas emissions than their conventional counterparts.

As two examples of sustainable, grass-fed local farms near Boise, Idaho where I live, I’d like to introduce my readers to Alderspring Ranch (grass-fed beef) and Saint John’s Organic Farm (grass-fed beef and raw milk). Many people are familiar with Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia owned by Joel and Teresa Salatin. Just as the Salatins have made a commitment to safe farming practices and respect for the land, humans, and animals through the principles of true stewardship to the Earth, so have these two farms. I have personally eaten the meat from both farms and can say it is some of the best quality and best tasting around. Please take a moment to visit their web sites and learn about the practices and principles they use and why this way of life is so important.

I have also noticed that people who eat grass-fed and pasture-raised meats eat less because they get full sooner since the meat is a balanced, healthy food and contains the correct amounts of bio-available nutrients for health. Obese meats from factory farms and conventional sources are full of chemicals and are unbalanced in many of their nutrients – especially Omega 6s, which people in developed countries consume far too much of, and this imbalance contributes to an inflammatory response and and over stimulation of the immune system, which sets the stage for disease and illness. This is largely due to the fact that these animals are fed grains, soy, and corn, and a large array of other harmful substances to fatten them quickly for slaughter which disrupt the natural balance in the nutritional integrity of the meat.

Cows are meant to eat grass, but most of them are eating large amounts of corn, grain, and soy. These foods cause an acidic environment in the digestive tract of the animal and cause a pathogenic version of many bacteria to grow, such as E. coli. The average life span of a bovine animal on a feedlot is about 14 to 16 months of age. If the animal were permitted to live longer on such a diet, it would become sick and die due to declining health from the feed it consumes. Is it any wonder our portion sizes of meat have grown so enormous? Ever wonder why restaurants serve 12 and 16 ounce steaks for meals? This could be the reason why – people are over-eating and still not getting full.

  • Don’t just talk about what needs to be done, do it!

Put your actions where your intentions are.  :)

What are your goals for living more sustainable in the future?