Making flying a little less damaging

SFO reusable water filling station

For the past year, I lived in New York while I finished up grad school and my boyfriend lived in San Francisco. I like my boyfriend and he’s pretty fun to hang out with so we saw each other about every other week. In October & November due to missing him and visiting with friends, I flew across the country and back 5 times. I tried to release my carbon emissions-guilt by reminding myself that we don’t have a car or use fuel in any other way (we walk or bike) so my total emissions footprint isn’t completely disgusting. There are a few other things I’d do, to help ease my conscience and the stress I was putting on the planet.

Garbage & waste: Airlines LOVE to give you 10 little plastic or styrofoam cups of water/juice/soda/tea. Each of those snackboxes or premade meals (in addition to being just super gross) comes in enough cellophane to wrap 30 christmas presents. To keep things from going bad they basically wrap each cube of cheese or lettuce leaf. So, I bring my own food in my reusable snack bag or reusable containers. In addition to saving me the cash I’d spend on lousy airport food, I know my waste is minimized. I also ALWAYS bring a reusable water bottle (empty of course through the security line!) and fill it at the water fountain before boarding. You can also ask the crew to refill this. SFO and BOS have also recently set up refillable water stations to make this even easier for passengers! Sustainable planet, here we come!

1700 plastic bottles saved!

I also bring a reusable lightweight mug (try this) to keep my nemesis (Styrofoam) out of the ocean and landfills. If you are desperate for a soda ask for the whole can and bring it home with you to recycle or ask the stewardess if they have onboard recycling. You definitely don’t need that dinky logo-ed out napkin either so safe a tree limb and say no to that one.

Remember, every little action counts!

Loca-Organic-Vega, What? Eating made Simple.

Sustainable food. Is it better to buy a local organic apple? Well there are no chemicals used (+1 health) and it takes less fuel to get that apple to you (+1 emissions saving). What about the apple from Fiji though? It had to travel thousands of miles to get here (-1 emissions), and who knows what the organic standards are like over there (we’ll give it a 0 for health), but are you also helping to create jobs and livlihoods for developing economies? With the global food trade, some countries are getting themselves on the map. In parts of Africa only fruit grows. Should they just eat fruit all year because it’s local or should they bring money into their economy and give people a living wage by exporting them?  Continue reading

Everyday sustainability

Everyone, from the president to the local foods movement to the Poland springs bottle commercial, is talking about sustainability. You can now get a masters (of science) in sustainability, as I have just done. You are most likely aware that we are at some point going to run out of oil, that the planet is getting warmer, and that those polar bears are becoming extinct because the ice sheets are melting. What I’m not sure is being talked about is how to do really simple things in your every day life to change any of this.

First you need to know the real facts. The Earth will run out of oil, but best guesses put it about 50-80 years away (depending on population growth and if we open up the Arctic and dig deeper into the ocean). The real thing to think about though is that we have thousands of years of coal and natural gas left in the U.S. alone…so it’s a bit more likely to switch to one of these sources for fuel (they can actually all be liquified and turned into fuel for cars – that’s the interesting part of fossil fuels, in fact in South Africa during apartheid, they used coal to make oil). As the most tree-hugging, bicycle-riding, hippie I know, I will still tell you that it is important to understand the complete picture. What we should definitely be doing now though is getting ourselves off a total dependency of oil and cutting back on our fossil fuel emissions which are doing nasty things to the air. Knowing that our energy future most likely includes fossil fuels, mitigation and changing our consumption patterns are more important – and every bit counts!

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