Tag Archives: sustainability

BBQ with eco-style!

Summer is in full swing and there is nothing better than the smell of a barbecue on a warm day. Here are some tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint while still enjoying your barbecue.

Go meatless or buy local

Do something different and make veggie kabobs! Spice it up with a lentil burger or a veggie dog! Not up for a meatless dish? In that case, make sure you purchase local meat. Chicken is one of the best meat choices if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint. While you’re at it, see if you can find free-range meat and organic veggie options too. Can’t find free-range or local selections at your supermarket? Find some other options at Local Harvest!

Skip the paper plates

And styrofoam cups for that matter. Why not use your existing dishes instead? This is cheaper in the long run and you can even purchase a fun set of summer-themed plastic dishes! This includes reusable napkins! What’s more fun than that?!

Choose your grill wisely

A solar-powered grill is your best option if you want to host an environmentally friendly barbecue. Next up? A natural gas grill. Propane, electric and charcoal grills are the least eco-friendly options.

Greening cleaning

After everyone has eaten their last veggie dog, use environmentally friendly and natural cleaning products to clean the grill, tables and dishes. Here are some resources:

Seventh Generation cleaning products

EPA Environmental Preferable Purchasing

Non-toxic cleaning kit instructions

Repel insects naturally

According to  About.com there are many natural insect repellants that you can use in lieu of traditional products. However, these ingredients must be applied more often than store-bought repellants (at least every two hours). Eco-friendly insect repellants include the following:

  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil

Have fun in the sun and happy  barbecuing!

Being green on a busy schedule

One of my friends asked me the other day for some tips on how to be a good environmentalist on a tight schedule. Here, I’ll divulge some tips on how to easily fit being green into the average American lifestyle.

Rule #1: Keep it Simple Stupid

I have set aside a specific location in my kitchen for my recyclables—a site that’s easy to access but is still out of the way. I actually keep my recyclables right next to my reusable shopping sacks—when I go to the grocery store I also take a trip to the recycling center. I am lucky enough to be within walking distance of both, but this can also be a good way to get the most out of a car trip if you are driving.  Since I use a reusable sack, I have gotten into a habit of bringing it with me every time I go to the store. As an extra measure (as we can all be forgetful), I would suggest you keep an extra sack in the trunk of your car if you drive to the supermarket. Otherwise, just put it on your mental lists of things to bring with you. I find if I plan to go to the supermarket every Saturday morning, I have already created a routine and it becomes easier to remember my reusable sack.

Rule #2: Think Ahead

One conundrum that I have run into is how to buy bulk foods. Being a user of reusable shopping bags, it irks me to waste a plastic sack on account of my bulk granola or almond purchase. Therefore, I reuse these sacks as well. When I have finished my granola or almonds, I dump the crumbs and put the bag into my reusable shopping sack (reverting back to rule #1, Keep it Simple Stupid).

Rule #3: Skip the extra bags in the produce aisle

I only bag veggies and fruits if I feel it absolutely has to be done. This goes for items such as green beans, which are impractical not to bag and fresh lettuce, which is often too wet to put in my sack. As for everything else (including but not limited to bananas, apples, onions, avocados and zucchini) I skip a sack and throw it in my reusable bag.

Rule #4: Beware the bag boy/restaurant employee

This is where going green really starts becoming proactive for me. Nothing annoys me more than going through my clean mean green routine, and then having a bag boy/girl at a grocery store sack an item such as bananas. You have to be very mindful in these situations and request “no extra bags please.” Same thing goes when I order a sandwich at Subway or a delicious burrito bowl from Chipotle (you have to speak up loudly, clearly and quickly in these situations because these employees are often uber excited to bag you up—that’s their job, after all).

Rule #5: Cut down on the meat

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that the growth and transport of the meat we eat is a huge producer of greenhouse gasses. That’s one of the reasons that I choose to eat meat but twice a week. What’s more, I almost always limit my meat purchases to chicken, which is less carbon intensive to grow and transport than beef, for example.  This is an easy decision for me, but for those of you who really love your meat, try to purchase a bit less during your next rendezvous in downtown meat town. You can complement your diet with other yummies such as fresh veggies and beans (There is nothing I love more than fresh veggie tacos—I’ll divulge my recipe in another post).

While I am no perfect environmentalist, I hope this post effectively shows you that there are some really simple ways to green up your life. For those readers who have extra tips to share, feel free to comment.

A culture of locusts? Lessons from Independence Day

I was recently re-watching the movie Independence Day, which got me thinking about some deep issues. No, I’m not talking about aliens taking over the earth. Whilst in an alien autopsy gone very wrong, Bill Pullman, who plays the United States president, has a vision of what the unearthly visitors are up to.

I saw… its thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource they move on… and we’re next. Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards.

The aliens in this movie are the stereotypical “bad” guys. They have no regard for others and seek to serve only themselves. But if you read that quote carefully, you may have realized something–the same quote could be used to describe exactly what the “good”  guys, humans, are trying to do. Let’s face it. We are well on our way to destroying the planet. Despite the efforts that many people are trying to make to “save the planet” there are far more people who want to consume, consume, consume.

And it’s not far-reaching to assume that we would like to inhabit other planets.  You can constantly find articles about how a new planet or moon similar to earth may have been discovered, and NASA is currently doing research to promote human survival for a colonization of the moon.

Why are humans so intent on conquering new territory? What makes us think it is our right or obligation to inhabit any other planet besides the one that we are already have such a hard time taking care of? So it would seem we were on our way to becoming locusts. We fear evil aliens and come to realize that we have actually become what we so fear.