by Taylor Hawkins, ETC blog contributor

Mark your calendar for April 22 – Earth Day! What is Earth Day and why do we celebrate it?  Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 when our environment was left unprotected without legal means, allowing toxic waste into water systems and factory smog into the air. This led to the development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970.

 

Sustainability?

Interest surrounding sustainability is on the rise, but what exactly is it? According to the EPA, “sustainability is based on a simple principle: everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.”

 

Looking to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?

Start by incorporating sustainability in the kitchen. Reducing plate waste and eating more plants are two of my New Year’s Resolutions and these tips below have helped me succeed.

How Can You Help?

Buy local. Have you ever wondered how strawberries from California ended up in Ohio? A lot of fuel is used when transporting food across the country. Buying local produce at your farmers market, for example, saves energy, reduces use of resources, and keeps farmers in business!

 

Meatless Mondays. This concept came about with one goal in mind: eat less meat and eat more plants. Why? Aside from reducing your risk for some chronic diseases, it is better for the environment! Going meatless once a week can minimize water usage, reduce greenhouse gases, as well as fuel dependence.

 

Check the label. Looking at labels and logos will not only save you money, but protect your family and help reduce pollution.

 

Reduce, recover, recycle. In 2015, the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction goal was developed. With one purpose, to reduce food loss and waste by 50% by the year 2030, the USDA and EPA encouraged entities to get involved by reducing, recovering, and recycling. “Reduce food waste by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling, and cooking methods. Recover food waste by connecting potential food donors to hunger relief organizations like food banks and pantries. Recycle food waste to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy, and natural fertilizers.”

 

Composting

Did you know? Twenty to thirty percent of what we throw away is food scraps and yard waste. Why not compost? Composting not only keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space, but also prevents the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Why not add them to your soil, instead, to help plants grow!

The good news is you can create your own compost at home, either in your backyard or indoors! To do so, gather browns, greens, and water. Browns consists of materials like dead leaves, branches, and twigs which provide carbon. Greens can range from grass clippings to vegetable and fruit scraps, and coffee grounds which provide nitrogen. The organic matter is then broken down by the moisture from water. It is important for your compost pile to have an equal amount of brown and green materials, to alternate layers, and use different sizes. Curious what material can be composted? Check it out!

Fruits and vegetables Eggshells
Coffee grounds and filters, teabags Nut shells
Shredded newspaper, cardboard, paper Yard trimmings, grass clippings
House plants Hay and straw
Leaves Sawdust, wood chips
Cotton and wool rags Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
Hair and fur Fireplace ashes

Be sure to check out what not to compost and why and the difference between composting indoors verse outdoors.

 

Sustainability can extend into your day-to-day routine, but start small in the kitchen. You will adopt a healthier lifestyle for yourself and the planet! At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.

Taylor currently a distance dietetic intern with Wellness Workdays in Hingham, Massachusetts. Her alma mater is Kent State University in Kent, Ohio where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and Exercise Physiology. She enjoys yoga, photography, cooking, and reading, and plans to continue her education to receive a Master’s in Health Education and Promotion.  She is passionate about helping others through diet and exercise and would like to specialize in pediatrics, diabetes, or sports nutrition.  Learn more about Taylor at http://taylor-hawkins.weebly.com.