Happy Earth Day! I have my B.S. in Environmental Science and it is very important to me that we try and tread lightly on our planet. Our family likely has a large carbon footprint but we are working to bring it down. We recycle almost everything we can, buy items with minimal packaging, reuse bags and are trying to adopt new habits that are more environmentally friendly such as: buying from farmer's markets, walking/biking more instead of driving to local places, and hanging our clothes to dry in nice weather.
I was happy to hear that Julia is learning about Earth Day in school and she was very surprised to find out that she did not have off from school for this holiday. That gave me a bit of a chuckle. I know her school marked the day with Earth Day friendly activities and think Emma's class unit on spring will cover Earth Day topics like growing gardens. I'm thinking it would be a good time to ask Emma about her school activities and see what activities Julia and Emma had in common. Fun idea, right? Let's see how much Emma wants to tell us...she is the nosy, silent type.
I'm not the best green thumb but can usually manage to grow some vegetables in the summer. I already have some lettuce and hope to plant a bit of cucumber, tomato and peppers. Maybe a few other veggies, too, depending on when I get around to the planting. I've asked Chris to make us a raised vegetable garden container that is height adjusted so we can roll Emma's wheelchair under it and she can help with the garden. I think getting her hands dirty and helping to pull off the fruit will appeal to her. It also addresses my desire to use clean soil for the garden and having it as a raised bed will eliminate any ground contamination that might occur.
The past year I've been working hard to minimize the amount of packaged food we purchase, opting instead to use most of the food budget for whole foods and organic food when possible. This has resulted in slightly more cooking and food preparation time but overall more satisfaction with our meals and snacks. I believe this change will make a difference in our family's health long term and think that eating mostly whole, fresh foods makes me feel less guilty when we do indulge in the packaged food variety. Don't get me wrong - we still use packaged food, especially crackers and some snacks. We just use less of it and are trying to cut out even more and our garden will help with that effort. If you are trying to do the same, a good site for ideas on how to achieve this is 100 Days of Real Food.
We are members of our local zoo and they have an ongoing conservation effort to educate the public on the environmental impact of some food ingredients. Long story short, we learned that Emma's beloved Nutella uses palm oil and the way it is harvested is endangering the orangutan habitat and the species. For more information on this you can visit: www.rspo.org. Since we love the orangutan we ceased all purchased of Nutella after that and started looking at the list of ingredients we buy to determine what includes palm oil. Turns out a lot of items contain it! Yikes! So, we are trying to patronize companies that use sustainable palm oil. Today I purchased Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and it is a nice alternative to Nutella. It's more expensive but we don't use much and since it is a food that motivates Emma to eat on days when eating just seems like too much effort for her it was a good purchase for our family.
These are a few things we are doing everyday to try and minimize our impact on Earth. If you have some actions you are taking please consider putting them in the comments section as we are open to more ideas.