The initial purpose of this blog was to relate my experiences caring for the mothers in this world as well as my own experiences being a mother. Now that my children are mostly launched and on the long road of adulthood, it has allowed be to reflect on the other parts of our world that need a bit of motherly help. A 2021 report of the UN Climate Group stated “Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.” In order to protect our planet we need to immediately reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But what can each of us do as an individual to effect a significant change? This was my winter Covid project – trying to understand where I could make a difference to be a better mother to the place I want future generations to live.
I started by signing up for 2 remote classes – Master Gardener and Master Recycling. In the next few posts, I’m hoping to pass on some of the info I learned that can make each of us more aware of our daily actions.
Some of the most jaw dropping info that brought an immediate change to my daily habits centered around our food consumption – or more importantly, our lack of consumption! 30-40% of our food supply gets dumped in the garbage. Since the US always likes to lead the world in whatever we do, it is telling that we lead the world in food waste with the average person wasting 219 lbs of food each year and food waste being the single largest component in landfills. This problem is two-fold. We waste greenhouse gases producing the 40% of food that goes into landfills and is not eaten. And wasted food produces greenhouse gases as it is transported to landfills and decomposes. Here are some of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce food waste.
- Make grocery lists/meal plans to avoid purchasing food that may not be used. Learn how to best store your purchases so that they stay fresh.
- Cook just enough for one meal or plan on eating leftovers the next day. My family dislikes left overs but has quit complaining so much as it is now a weekly meal.
- Unless an expiration date is on a dairy item, it is more of a “best if used by” date but can still be consumed safely.
- Compost – backyard or as part of your garbage service. This has made an enormous difference in my household food waste as much of our waste is scraps from fruits/vegetables. I use the resulting compost on my garden each fall. Most urban garbage services now offer composting services. You have to pay a bit more but you also can decrease the size of your garbage container.
- When eating out, try to share meals or plan on taking home left-overs for tomorrows lunch.
- Eat more vegetables and less meat. The growing of vegetables produces far fewer greenhouse emissions than the production of meat, particularly beef. This is the single largest effort a person can make to reduce greenhouse emissions, much more than driving an electric vehicle or investing in solar power.
There are also health benefits to eating a diet that contains less red meat; lower risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Most Americans don’t have the drive to adopt a completely vegetarian diet, but even reducing our consumption of red meat by 50% would make dramatic changes in our diet and our health.
7. Grow some vegetables/herbs. Although this does not significantly change your carbon footprint, it does make you appreciate the work that is involved with food production and thereby make you a better consumer of all food.