What We Eat and Our Environment Related?

What We Eat and Our Environment Related?

About 2 months ago I started eating a vegetarian diet and 2 weeks into that shift, I watched The Game Changers. It’s the new trendy documentary on eating vegetarian and how athletes perform. It was very compelling. Even my dad, who is a family physician and holistic doctor in Las Vegas, emailed the whole family to watch it. In this documentary, there was a 10 minute blip that by eating less meat, we’ll create a less toxic environment. It piqued my curiosity so I did a little researching.

The obvious fact was that the more whole foods and less processed foods we ate, the less waste and by-products we created. But did eating meat harm our environment? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), raising animals for food is the number one source of water pollution. To feed animals for consumption, corn is primarily used. Corn is prized because it can be efficiently grown on vast farms but it depletes the soil and forces the farmers to use more pesticides and fertilizers. Of which eventually affect our water supply. For example, there is currently a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of 8,543 square miles where no fish or other animals can thrive because the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that have flowed out of the Mississippi River. In 2009, a study found that four fifths of the deforestation in Amazon rainforest could be linked to the cattle ranching.

Not all experts are convinced of these facts. Frank Mitloehner, a animal scientist from the University of California, Davis is vocal about his view that meat has been disproportionately linked to climate change emissions. “What concerns me the most is that, while livestock has an impact, the report makes it sound as if it was the leading source of the impacts. By far the use of fossil fuels are the leading source of carbon emissions,” says Mitloehner.

There is so much data and research to be found with compelling arguments that I encourage to do a little picking around and see what sits right with you. David Pimentel summarizes in Scientific America: “For those who can’t give up meat fully, cutting back goes a long way toward helping the environment, as does choosing meat and dairy products from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. ‘Ultimately, we need better policies and stronger regulations to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production,’ says EWG’s Kari Hammerschlag ‘But personal shifting of diets is an important step.’”

 

Simple Steps to a Sustainable Lifestyle

Simple Steps to a Sustainable Lifestyle

Living a greener, more sustainable lifestyle really doesn’t take drastic measures. You don’t need to be living off the grid, eating most of your produce that you’ve grown yourself, and make everything from scratch – although the thought seems delightful to me. But, there are very simple things you can do living in an urban area. Here’s just a few:

  • When not in use, turn it off! In fact, even when it’s turned off, like small appliances, they are still using electricity. My kids and I have gotten in the habit of unplugging small appliances we aren’t using. Or plug them into a power strip that’s easy to turn on and off with a flip of a switch.

  • Don’t be a consumer. Start being mindful of the things you buy. At the grocery store, buy less prepackaged foods; start making dinner; pack your own lunches for the day; buy things in bulk and put in re-usable containers for everyday use. Frequent the thrift stores and second hand shops; and buy used clothing and items. You are saving lots of money and re-using items that usually are in perfectly good condition.

 

  • Simplify! How many of you have lots of different cleaning products? Water and vinegar cleans most things around the home and I put it in a re-usable spray bottle. If you don’t like the scent of vinegar, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. Also, baking soda is a great item to have as well for some of those hard to clean things. It’s cheaper, easier and better for the environment also! And go through your home and de-clutter. Donate or giveaway the items you are not using and don’t need. When you go to the store refrain from “consuming”, a.k.a. buying things. You can even find websites and classifieds where you can barter and trade. There’s one on KSL.

 

  • Eat local, fresh foods. We are lucky to live in an area where we can get local produce and other locally made items. One of my favorite places to go to is the Downtown Farmer’s Market in St. George. You can get locally made breads, cheeses, fresh produce, and great items produced locally. By doing this, you are creating a smaller environmental footprint: less refrigeration, less gas for transportation, less packaging. Pat yourself on the back.

 

  • We live in a desert. We should probably start acting like we do. Although it may not seem like we have a water shortage, we are using a limited resource in our area. Start being active in using minimal amounts of water. Time your showers or put in a water-saving shower head. Taking baths actually uses less water. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. Get rid of your grass and do water smart landscaping – it’s so much prettier! When washing your dishes, fill up the sink; don’t let the water run.

I hope these tips spark some ideas of simple steps you can do starting today! Get your family on board, tell your friends and neighbors. As a community we should be actively preserving the amazing lifestyle we have in Southern Utah by one little action at a time.

Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Did you know that you can request an energy audit from your electricity company? Your utility/electricity company usually has an energy auditor on hand and it’s usually free to their clients. It’s a great way to find out how you can be saving more on electricity. The auditor, also known as an energy rater, will help you improve your energy efficiency of your home and help you with your energy consumption. Energy auditors often begin by inspecting homes to measure heat, cooling, electrical and gas usage. They use thermal infrared cameras to find energy leaks, and blower-door tests to measure the airtightness of a structure.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I noticed a trend of high energy bills with my 100 year old home in Kanab. It became worrisome to me because the energy consumption was high along with the bills. Since the home runs all on electric, I called my electricity company and expressed my concern and they transferred me over to the energy auditor. We talked at length on the phone, he pulled up past electricity consumption with the previous owner and couldn’t get the information he was looking for.

 

He asked about my heating system, the patterns of usage and some other questions. At the end of the phone call, we scheduled an appointment for him to come to my cottage in Kanab to inspect it.

I’m thrilled that I am actually using this service and get to the bottom of things – why is my electricity consumption so high! Stay tuned.