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Earth Day; an issue of sustainability!

 

Earth Day: an issue of sustainability!

Have you ever thought about Earth Day, you know, that one day a year that falls on April 22nd?

Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, and sought to focus on the environment and how we can create healthy and sustainable surroundings.  Almost a half-century later, the principals of Earth Day remain the same, and we continue to come up with ways to preserve, or make our environment a sustainable one.

As a consumer, what can we do to practice environmental sustainability?

We have many opportunities, Take food for instance. As a nation not only are we becoming super-sized but so is our food-related waste.

In August of 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a paper explaining that America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.  Yes, that is right; nearly 40 percent of our food supply is wasted (yet, one in eight Americans struggles to put food on the table).

The reasons for such waste are multifaceted; however, consumers are a major contributor to the problem.  Key findings include:

The average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food.

In average American households, 2/3 of household waste is due to food spoilage:

40 percent of fresh fish

23 percent of eggs

20 percent of milk

Citrus fruits and cherries top the list for fruits, and sweet potatoes, onions, and greens are commonly wasted vegetables

Other household waste includes:

cooking too much

serving too much

over purchasing

plate waste

holiday celebrations

 

Wasted food also translates into wasted natural resources. It takes energy, water and farmland to grow, transport, and store food.  Additionally, food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills.  By wasting less food, each of us can be an essential component in solving this increasing problem.

In 1917, the U.S. Food Administration distributed war effort posters in hopes of convincing the public to conserve food resources with expectations that this campaign would maintain an adequate supply of food for the troops fighting wars as well as for American households.

These century old practices are applicable today.

  1. Buy it with thought!  We can be mindless in the way we purchase food in much the same way we can be mindless in how we eat our food. Make thoughtful purchases, as wise choices are better for both our planet and our body.
  2. Cook it with care. In the end, checking items we have on hand, planning menus and shopping with care makes us mindful and aware.
  3. Use less wheat & meat. In fact, Meatless Mondays was a sustainable war effort too!  Practicing this use less effort provokes mindful eating of resource intense products.
  4. Buy local. Hardly a buzzword, the idea has been around for a long time. By mindfully purchasing local products, we are not stuffing items into our grocery carts without reflection on where the food comes from.
  5. Serve just enough. Choose My Plate, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate gives a great visual representation of the foods each of us need on our plate. Not only can serving enough help our wallet, but it can help our waistline!
  6. Use what is left. Using what we have is a wise use of resources for both Mother Nature, personal finances and our health. Try eating your leftovers instead of throwing them into the landfill.

Norman Vincent Peale says, Change your thoughts and you change your world.  Can the same thinking apply to our behavior?  If each and every one of us made a small behavior change it could help change the world and make us better stewards of our environment, not just on April 22nd, but every day.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.nrdc.org/issues/food-waste

http://www.nrdc.org/living/eatingwell/saving-leftovers-saves-money-resources.asp

 

PG

Author: Heidi Copeland - hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting
http:leon.ifas.edu

Permanent link to this article: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/fcs/2017/04/03/earth-day-an-issue-of-sustainability/