Thursday, June 15, 2017

Want to Save the World? Go Vegan and…



Vegans love to promote the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and why not?  They are undeniably significant. Is it reasonable to think that because we’re vegan, we are doing enough to protect the environment, though? With our planet under serious threat and future generations seriously vulnerable – and the world’s most economically disadvantaged carrying the greatest burden – we can and should always do more, tightening our ecological footprints as much as possible. Being vegan doesn’t give anyone permission to rest on our laurels or give us carte blanche permission to not do our best to reduce our harm to this planet in every way we are able. Are you already vegan but wanting to step it up a notch or two? There are many small but impactful ways to shrink our ecological footprints and together they add up to something significant. As always, many thanks to the wise counsel of my amazing Facebook friends for helping me to brainstorm this list.

* Consume less.

Try to avoid buying new items; purchasing new vegan purses, belts, shoes and t-shirts is still consuming and still creates a footprint.

Check out websites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook groups like the Buy Nothing Project, and lots of local groups where people buy, sell, trade and give away used items before buying something new.

Buying secondhand is more than just for clothes and knickknacks: if you need new furniture, cars, computers and books, look for used to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take shorter showers.

– Take fewer showers and spot clean more with a wash cloth.

Switch to high-efficiency showerheads.

Turn off and unplug your computer overnight.

Even if you’re vegan, not all plant foods have the same water footprint. Some are much more water-intensive than others.

Waste less/create less waste

Take reusable to-go containers out with you when you eat out for your leftovers.

Take a reusable mug out with you, too.

Refuse anything packed in Styrofoam.

Don’t use plastic straws.

Decline bags, napkins, straws, utensils and condiment packets with to-go food orders and use your own to eliminate waste.

Take eating utensils, containers, straws and cloth napkins out with you.

Use rags instead of paper towels for cleaning.

Replace tissues with handkerchiefs.

Don’t buy foods packaged in non-recyclable materials.

Take your own reusable containers and fill them up in the bulk section of natural food stores. (Have a cashier or someone at customer service mark down the weight to deduct it from the final weight when it’s been filled.)

In addition to bringing your own shopping bags when grocery shopping, bring your own reusable produce bags.

Use produce that has gone a little bad by cutting out the bad parts; tossing wilted greens and fruit that is past its prime into a smoothie is also a way to prevent waste.

Put the ends and unused parts of veggies into a freezer bag to use for making vegetable stock.

Revive greens and other plants if they get a little wilted.

Get a home energy audit and follow the recommendations as you can afford them.

Learn about and implement the use of greywater around your home.

Make sure your gutters drain into rain barrels to reuse the water.

Use menstrual cups.

Green practices

Drive less or give up your car if you are able.

Grow as much food as you can and if you don’t have a yard, you might still be able to do window herbs or grow on a fire escape.

Grow native plants that help pollinators.

Compost food scraps. If you don’t have a yard, you can still compost: there are still many places that would appreciate the donation.

Wash your clothes less often.

Hang your clothes out to dry.

Wash your laundry with soap nuts, which can last for a year or two, to avoid detergents and fabric softeners in plastic bottles.

Make your own personal care products and home cleaning products with bulk materials like apple cider vinegar, baking soda and castile soap.

Plan your errands and driving times to get the most done in one trip.

Reduce or eliminate flying as much as possible.

Buy local and seasonal as much as possible.

Freeze, can and pickle produce for eating out of season, taking advantage of great sales or to make the bumper crops of the season last.

Convert everything to energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you’re not in the room.

Make sure your windows are properly insulated.

Solar panels are handy. Even if you cannot convert your entire home, there are solar chargers for cellphones, solar lights for patios, etc.

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