Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm just lazy, no excuses

I don't have an elaborate story about why I haven't really been writing posts. I didn't suffer from frostbite, even though I contend that Los Angeles weather is extremely chilly by my standards. Feel my hands! They're like blocks of ice, no kidding.

Today I had brunch at the Aroma Cafe in Studio City (which BTW I highly recommend for a great weekend brunch) with my friend Jess. She asked what are some simple ways to be a little more eco-friendly. There are so many simple ways to lower our carbon footprint, and although I am by absolutely no means an expert, I can definitely give a few easy to follow tips. For those on the westside who are wishing to learn more, try out Sustainable Works. Their classes are informal and useful, I definitely think I got a lot out of it.

Tracy's Every Day Tips to Earth-Friendly Living
1. Reuse, reuse, reuse!
It seems like it's a big trend to get those canvas bags to reuse on your grocery trips. I hope that those who do purchase these bags with good intentions, do follow through with it. I always go to do my grocery shopping with my Trader Joe's bag in tow, otherwise I just don't go that day. Or if you're buying very little, just hold it in your arms until you get to the car. The minor inconvenience just saved the earth a little bit.
It shouldn't just stop there. You know those little plastic bags they give you for free to hold your apples and other produce? Why not reuse those? They probably didn't get very dirty from holding your apples, and you were planning on washing that apple before eating it, right?? I just pop a few in my canvas bag and head off to the store.
They can also be used at other retailers, not just the grocery store. I used mine on Friday at Target.

2. Packaging.
There's a lot of packaging out there. A lot. I want some tomatos, but they come packaged in little plastic cartons. Honestly, I'd rather just have a pile of them and be able to pick them myself, but that's not an option sometimes. So I either recycle them, or find new purposes for them. I like to bake for friends and people in the office, and these guys make great transporters. Did you buy a carton of cotton cheese? Why not wash out the plastic container and reuse it as tupperware? It's great to use for freezing your homemade sauces and soups. I've got some in my freezer filled with simmered black beans now!

3. Meat
Yes, meat production uses a ridiculous amount of resources. I know a lot of people love meat, but what about cutting it out of a meal once or twice a week? Beef is a particularly large user of resources.

4. Buy Organic
Pesticides and herbicides kill bugs and weeds, so you really have to wonder what effect they'd have on you. Strawberries, blueberries and bell peppers are just examples of fruits and vegetables that are most heavily loaded with pesticides. Washing them isn't going to get it all off. Not to mention, if it doesn't say organic, your produce is most likely genetically modified.

5. Ordering Take-Out
A lot of wastes involved here. I'm not going to lie, I tend to forget to bring my own take-out boxes when I eat out. All the time, actually. But do you really need to take their plastic utensils when you know you've got some at home? Those extra napkins, are you actually going to use them, or will they end up in the back of your car somewhere? Worst of all, are those plastic straws that we usually don't bother to recycle. They seem so insignificant, but a lot of tiny things add up to a lot. What I'm trying to say is, you can enjoy your food, but think about all the little things that go into it before you say yes to extra packets of ketchup and whatnot.

6. Recycle whatever you can. I learned from Sustainable Works that when you're in doubt, just put it in the recycling bin. Did you also know that the City of Los Angeles recycles styrofoam? So throw them in the blue bins.
E-waste can be recycled at a lot of collection centers. My favorite one is at UCLA. It's open every Saturday at 8am, on the corner of Gayley Ave. and Charles E. Young Dr. They even take it out of the car for you, so you don't even need to get out of your seat. I give them my old CDs, appliances, ethernet cables, batteries, etc. They even take household toxic wastes (i.e. cleaners).

7. Change your lightbulbs to CFLs or LED lights whenever possible.

8. Road rage.
I am not the most calm and patient driver. I won't deny it! But, if you maintain your speed at 60mph and don't go all crazy, you increase your gas mileage. You can save money, AND the environment. One thing that surprised me was that if you go over 35 mph, it's actually more efficient to use the A/C than to have your windows open to cool the inside of the car.

I understand that every one has their own opinions, and this might not be the right way for you to live. I've heard plenty of suggestions on how to be more eco-friendly, and I firmly rejected quite a few. I believe in making a true effort, but it shouldn't prevent you from living life the way you want to. You only live once. I also know that some others are much more extreme and their carbon footprints are probably smaller than mine tenfold or more, but I'd like to think that a little goes a long way. By making better choices today, we ensure that our kids and grandkids have a better, more natural life. That's my spiel, and I'm sticking to it.

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