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Big Garden-Small Carbon

June 6th, 2010

To determine your “carbon footprint” means to measure the amount of greenhouse gases that you or your organization is adding to the atmosphere. The term was coined from carbon dioxide, the primary human contributor to climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps solar heat in our atmosphere ‘changing’ our climate’s typical patterns.

Everything has a carbon footprint, whether it’s the car you drive, the shoes on your feet or the food at your table. Food requires energy to be grown and is a globally transported commodity. That’s a lot of attention for a tomato.

Whenever you use energy created from fossil fuels, you’re generating carbon emissions. To offset your carbon emissions, or become carbon-neutral, simply means to neutralize your part in the polluting of our environment.

As a green consumer, may people wonder how they can be more sustainable or offset their impact on the planet. Since carbon dioxide emissions are the principal human cause of climate change, carbon offsets are the key to promoting a greener environment. A carbon offset represents the carbon dioxide emissions accounted for in a verified project that reduces CO2 in the atmosphere. Offsetting your lifestyle or business is a great way to market yourself as sustainable, separate yourself from competitors and do your part to combat climate change. Be creative, you can offset nearly anything!

Like EcoAid, Humble Seed’s goal is to show that environmental activism is smart, proactive and part of a good business model. That’s why their product promotes growing locally, skipping the need to transport and grow food away from your backyard. Not everyone has space for an entire farm, but an herb or chili pepper garden is a great start.

Brendan Cook
Brendan is the sustainability director for EcoAid and can help you or your organization start saving money and being sustainable.

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Waste Not, Want Not

May 11th, 2010


How many times has this happened to you? You have a recipe that you want to make that calls for an ingredient that you do not have on hand. You buy the smallest package of said ingredient that you can find only to discover later that the rest has gone bad before you could use it all. In addition to leftover prepared foods, cheeses, fruits, herbs, and vegetables each make up a large portion of foods that end up going to waste while sitting on the counter or in the fridge. When you’re trying to stay within a budget, it’s easy to see how wasted food is wasted money. As hard as many of us attempt to pre-plan meals using what’s on hand or take advantage of our freezers it’s sometimes easier said than done.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans waste 30 percent of all edible food produced, bought, and sold in the U.S., and scientists at the University of Arizona and the National Institute of Health (NIH) estimate 40 percent or more. To add to this unfortunate situation, Environmental Protection Agency data suggests that rotting food may be responsible for about one-tenth of all anthropogenic (caused by humans) methane emissions. When rotting food decomposes in landfills a by-product is methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.

While throwing out a few salad greens here and there may seem harmless, in the long run, every bit of food-gone-bad adds up to a lot of wasted food and global warming woes.

One way that people can help reduce food waste is by growing their own herbs and vegetables. When you grow your own foods not only will you be able to enjoy foods free of pesticides and fertilizer, but you will also be able to use what is needed, when needed. Another positive side to this is that if a food grower has more, say, vegetables than they can use during the growing season, there is the opportunity to share the bounty with friends and neighbors. It’s a much better feeling than the one you get when you spend your hard-earned money at the grocery store just to have foods go bad.

For more in-depth information on food waste and easy-to-embrace solutions, read How to Wage War on Food Waste, from OnEarth, the award-winning environmental magazine.

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