Keeping Soil Healthy is Key to a Healthy Planet

Day 339World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on December 5, as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.”United Nations

One way to keep soil healthy is the use of regenerative agriculture practices. There doesn’t seem to be a very specific definition to describe this practice. However, there are certain methods that can be seen as “regenerative”.

  • Incorporating crop rotation and cover cropping
  • Increasing plant and crop diversity
  • Practicing conservative tillage to prevent erosion and increase soil health
  • Animal integration, managed grazing and pasturing
  • Composting and waste reduction
  • and more

Whether regenerative agriculture ends up being a scientifically-proven way to fight climate change or not, its methods still offer many benefits to the ecosystem, producers and consumers alike.” – Sustainable America

Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. The need for farming practices that will address these issues is critical to a healthy planet.

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”​ – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tomorrow, a look at what Taiwan is doing.

Indoor Vertical Crops, the Future of Farming

Day 338 – Traditional farming takes can take up a great deal of space and require a lot of water. Sadly, our planet is running out of space and fresh water. To help alleviate the problem, companies are creating vertical farms. One such company is Plenty, located in San Francisco, California.

Vertical farms provide numerous advantages over traditional farming.

  1. A perfect environment is offered, avoiding the unpredictability of changing climates.
  2. No bleach or pesticides used on plants. No GMOs.
  3. Crop yields are increased over 350x compared to traditional farming.
  4. Hundreds of acres of farmland are compacted into the size of a big box retail store.

Plenty offers a variety of different greens.

There is no denying that the planet is changing and that climates around the globe will begin to undergo major changes. Many have already started the transformation. Vertical gardens will be key in providing people with fresh produce.

Tomorrow, celebrating World Soil Day.

How Much Trash Does One Person Make in a Year?

Day 326 – An unlikely source, TitleMax, looked at some gross data to calculate what one person produces in garbage in one year by type of waste.

Here’s what they found.

  1. Mail – 23.06 pounds per person
  2. Toilet Paper & Paper Towels – 22.36 pounds per person
  3. Paper plates and cups – 8.22 pounds per person
  4. Cardboard boxes – 187.77 pounds per person
  5. Cartons – 34.97 pounds per person
  6. Glass beer and soft drink bottles – 12.74 pounds per person
  7. Other bottles and jars – 24.52 pounds per person
  8. Metal durable goods – 92.80 pounds per person
  9. Aluminum goods – 10.89 pounds per person
  10. Steel cans – 11.78 pounds per person
  11. Aluminum cans – 9.04 pounds per person
  12. Durable plastics – 72.99 pounds per person
  13. Plastic plates and cups – 6.75 pounds per person
  14. Plastic trash bags – 6.50 pounds per person
  15. Plastic bottles and jars – 17.77 pounds per person
  16. Plastic bags and wraps – 24.27 pounds per person
  17. Clothing and footwear – 70 pounds per person
  18. Food waste – 220.96 pounds per person
  19. Yard trimmings – 91.53 pounds per person
  20. Wood – 854.20 pounds per person

That’s a grand total of 1,803.12 pounds per person

We can help reduce our waste by refusing, recycling, reusing and composting items off the list.

Tomorrow, reusable sticky notes.

Too Much Seafood Going to Waste

Day 325 – It’s World Fisheries Day! The first World Fisheries Day was celebrated on November 21, 2015. The day is dedicated to highlighting the critical importance of healthy ocean ecosystems and to ensure sustainable stocks of fisheries in the world. 

So, today was the perfect day to write about the large amount of seafood that is wasted every year. It is estimated that every year, almost half the seafood supply in the United States is lost, amounting to nearly 500 million pounds of protein waste. Globally, we lose 110 billion pounds. Getting fish from the sea to the table takes many steps through the supply chain. With each step comes a great deal of waste. It is estimated that 17 to 22 percent of fish caught in the US are discarded before reaching port. On top of that, many fish spoil during transport. Even more goes to waste at the markets and once they reach households.

Thankfully, there are some companies trying to combat the waste. They’re making fish jerky, turning fish skin into wallets and coin purses, making bioplastics for fish packaging, and much more.

There are things you can do to reduce seafood waste:

  1. Choose seafood caught or farmed via environmentally sound methods.
  2. Don’t be afraid to purchase frozen seafood. 
  3. If possible, buy whole fish straight from the source.  
  4. Find uses for your leftover seafood. 

“If current trends in overfishing and ocean pollution continue, scientists estimate that we’ll run out of seafood by 2050. Reducing global seafood loss will not only cut down on waste and reduce the amount of discards dumped back into the ocean, it’ll help combat overfishing and hopefully maintain a protein-rich supply of seafood to nourish a growing global population.” – Sierra Club

Tomorrow, the amount of waste one person creates in a year.

What is a Green Restaurant?

Day 321 – On our road trip this summer, I noticed a sign on the window of the Grand Canyon Lodge’s restaurant. It got me thinking about what is involved in becoming a Green Restaurant.

Founded in 1990, The Green Restaurant Association, an international nonprofit organization, has pioneered the Green Restaurant® movement as the leading voice within the industry, encouraging restaurants to green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. With its turnkey certification system, the GRA has made it accessible for thousands of restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable in Energy, Water, Waste, Food, Chemicals, Disposables, & Building.” – Green Restaurant Association

The Green Restaurant Certification Standards include 8 categories:

  1. Water efficiency
  2. Waste reduction and recycling
  3. Sustainable durable goods and building materials
  4. Sustainable food
  5. Energy
  6. Reusables and environmentally preferable disposables
  7. Chemical and pollution reduction
  8. Transparency and education

If you want to find a Green Restaurant near you click HERE!

Green Restaurant Association also wants to educate the public. You can find more information about the following topics regarding restaurants and the environment.

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Waste
  4. Disposables
  5. Chemicals
  6. Building
  7. Food

Whether if we’re eating at home or dining out, we should try to make sure our impact on the planet is not a negative one.

Tomorrow, vacuuming sky to clean up carbon emissions.

The Sustainability of Honey

Day 317 – A was recently told that I need to reduce my sugar or I’ll end up becoming a diabetic. I gave up Pepsi, which was not easy, but my reoccurring kidney stones convinced me it was time. I am now drinking a lot more water. However, I still enjoy the occasional hot cup of tea, especially now that the weather is getting colder. I started putting honey in my tea, rather than the two teaspoons of sugar I was adding. It got me thinking about honey and it’s sustainability, along with possible health benefits.

The production of honey has the potential of having the lowest negative impact on the environment of all the sweeteners. It really comes down to where you get your honey. If you are able to make it at home, then your are actually making a positive impact on the environment. Not only will your honey be produced without processing, but raising bees will encourage you to garden more sustainably, and the bees will provide the important ecosystem service of pollination for you and your neighbors. The carbon footprint of the honey making process increases when the production becomes more complex and the shipments involve a great deal of travel. If you are not ready to take on your own hive then consider purchasing your honey locally. I have been buying my honey from Heaven’s Honey Inc. Local Honey. I know you can find it at Jewel.

Here are just a few of the health benefits of honey:

  1. The antioxidants in honey can help lower blood pressure.
  2. Honey can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and help raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
  3. Honey can lower triglycerides.
  4. Topically, honey can help heal burns and wounds.
  5. Honey can help suppress coughs in children.

So, the next time you see a bee swarming overhead, think twice before swatting at it. These little guys are helping create a pretty awesome food.

Tomorrow, it’s not easy being eco-friendly when you’re a Type 1 Diabetic.

The Ballpark Farm

Day 309 – I had no idea, that is, until my mother-in-law sent me a picture. There is a farm at Fenway Park and it’s been there since 2015.

Here are some interesting facts about the farm.

  1. More than 5,900 pounds of fresh produce are harvested each growing season at Fenway Farms.
  2. Fenway Farms provides fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruit to Red Sox fans dining at Fenway Park’s Dell/EMC Club restaurant along with use in concessions throughout the park.     
  3. The 5,000 square foot rooftop farm is sited within Fenway Park positioned on the roof of the Front Office located on the Third Base side of the EMC Level.
  4. Urban farmers from Green City Growers maintain Fenway Farms regularly, including during many home games. Fans will often be able to see farmers at work.
  5. This project serves to engage Red Sox Nation in the value of eating fresh food.
  6. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 children and adults interact with Fenway Farms annually, helping to expose thousands to the food growing process, often for the first time in their lives.

Fenway Farms is helping to make America’s most beloved and oldest ballpark one of America’s greenest.

Tomorrow, your own at home recycling machine.

Reducing Food Waste

Day 289 – Today is World Food Day! It’s a good time to think about ways in which we can try to reduce food waste. The folks at FoodPrint has created an A to Z list for ways we can reduce our food waste.

  1. Avoid over buying & skip buying perishable items in bulk. It’s not a bargain if you don’t eat it all.
  2. B is for blanching. Partially cook vegetables before freezing to help retain their texture & flavor.
  3. C is for composting food scraps. Get all the info to start a compost bin in our primer.
  4. Don’t throw it away! Edible food is often thrown away due to confusion about expiration dates and/or unjustified fear of spoilage. Learn what date labels mean.
  5. E is for ends. Don’t overlook the end of your carrot tops (which can be given to dogs as treats) or apple cores (use them to make vinegar).
  6. F is for freezing. Learn the best methods for freezing a bumper crop of produce to enjoy those flavors all year long.
  7. Give extra homegrown fruit & produce to friends, family and coworkers. Or find a local food pantry through AmpleHarvest.org to give it to those most in need.
  8. H is for storing herbs properly and using them before they turn to mush in the fridge.
  9. I is for infusion. The stems, peels and extras of ingredients with aromatic flavor — herbs, fruits, vegetables — can be used to create infusions, tinctures and extracts.
  10. J is for jamming. Cooking fruit or vegetables down into jam is a good way to preserve items at their peak.
  11. K is for keeping food fresh. Store food properly and it will last much longer.
  12. L is for loving your leftovers. Take the doggy bag from restaurants; turn them into new dishes at home.
  13. M is for meal planning. Go food shopping with a plan so you don’t purchase more than you need.
  14. N is for using the non-edible parts. Banana peels can be rubbed on bug bites to take the itch away; eggshells and dried-out corn cobs can be used as pot scrubbers.
  15. O is for using leftover oils & fats. Store properly and strain after use, and you can use oil and other cooking fats several times before disposing.
  16. P is for pesto. Use leftover leaves, stems, herbs, greens, carrot fronds or beet greens to make pesto.
  17. Q is for quick pickles! With refrigerator pickles, make a simple brine, pour it over extra veggies and extend the life of your food for another few weeks.
  18. Reduce the plastic in your kitchen. Swap beeswax wrap & cloth towels for plastic wrap; use glass containers instead of plastic ones.
  19. Shop small. Avoid big monthly shopping trips and only buy ingredients for a few days.
  20. Think like a chef! Before you toss out old, stale or wilted ingredients, give them another look. Chefs turn these items into vinegars, sauces & more.
  21. Use every part. Seed, stem, leaf, frond, greens, roots — they can all be used in many different ways.
  22. Vow to keep food scraps out of the garbage. Be mindful of what you are putting into the waste stream.
  23. W is for water waste. Save water when cooking and washing up, and purchase items that have a lower water footprint.
  24. X-amine your waste. Look at your current habits & make note of what you can do better.
  25. Yesterday’s leftovers are today’s lunch. Make a dish brand new by adding fresh herbs or your fridge’s best condiments.
  26. Zest your citrus! Don’t waste this flavorful part of the fruit. If you don’t need it now, freeze it to use later in baking, syrups and marinades.

Reducing your food waste is as easy as ABC.

Tomorrow, the plastic hanger problem.

Celebrating Farmers

Day 285 – Happy National Farmers Day!  It’s a day for everyone to acknowledge the hard work that goes into feeding and supplying a nation.

Here are some interesting farming facts:

  1. There are about 2 million farms in the U.S. – Nearly all these farms are family-run.
  2. One U.S. farm can feed 166 people – Farmers around the world will have to grow about 70% more food than they do now in order to meet demands by the year 2050.
  3. U.S. has more than 900 million acres of farmland
  4. Top farm products in the U.S. are cattle, corn and soybeans
  5. Soybean production is key to making crayons – One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.
  6. The U.S. is home to 47 breeds of sheep – Every baseball requires 150 yards of wool.
  7. Net losses at US farms are on the rise – Most farmers need outside work to make ends meet.
  8. Less than 1% of US farmland is organic –  The vast majority of the organic food consumed in the U.S. is imported.
  9. The US is the world’s third-biggest food supplier – U.S. farmers produce 10% of the world’s wheat and 20% percent of the world’s beef, pork, and lamb.
  10. Most farmers’ markets source products within 50 miles – Farmers who supply supermarkets typically live 1,500 miles away. On average, farmers get about 17 cents of every dollar that store shoppers spend on food; those at farmers’ markets take home more than 90% of food dollars.

So if you get a chance, thank the farmers who plow, sow, raise, feed, and harvest to provide the food and materials that our country needs to succeed.

Tomorrow, breaking it down!

Compostable Snack Bags

Day 282 – The days of tossing your chip bags into the trash may be coming to an end. The folks at Off the Eaten Path have created a bag for their snacks that can break down at industrial compost sites. The bags are made from a material called PLA (polylactic acid). PLA is derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane.

If you do not have commercial composting available to you, you can ship your bags to TerraCycle and they will compost them for you. For every bag returned to TerraCycle, Off the Eaten Path will donate $1 to Ocean Conservancy (up to $192,000), helping to protect our ocean and our planet.

When you think about the number of snack bags that are disposed of on a daily basis, it is very clear that having a compostable bag would be a serious game changer. Hopefully, the other snack companies will follow suit and help in the fight to save the planet.

Tomorrow, electric composters and their efficiency.