Monthly Archives: October 2013

Let’s Go All-In on Selling Sustainability

For your (somewhat) long video of the week, check out this 13-minute talk by Steve Howard, the chief sustainability officer at IKEA.

Howard gives an engaging talk about the importance of sustainability, and how it’s role in society has changed throughout the last few generations. He talks about how the importance of conservation and preservation of energy, and indeed, our society, had jumped to the forefront of our culture. Sustainability, he says, has gone from a “nice-to-do” to a “must-do.”

I won’t go into more detail, but take a listen.

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So, what’s a BPA?

Labels you might see when purchasing plastic products. (Pro tip: Just avoid plastic all together!)

Labels you might see when purchasing plastic products. (Pro tip: Just avoid plastic all together!)

If you’ve ever paid attention to plastic products for sale, you’re bound to have seen at least a few companies advertising their goods as “BPA-free”. Seeing that on a label leads most consumers to immediately believe that BPAs must be bad for them, but the truth in this situation is a little murky, so here are the facts:

Bisephenol A (or BPA) is an epoxy used to make clear, hard plastics. You see this kind of plastic every single day, whether it be in the grocery store, in vending machines or in the tupperware you use to store your food. It’s often used as coating inside plastic bottles or tin cans. At high-dosage levels, BPAs have hormone like properties. They are endocrine disruptors, and some studies show that they can cause possible negative effects in animals and fetuses, causing birth defects. Some of these effects are stronger when BPA filled plastic is chipped, broken or heated.

In a historic move, Canada has recently declared BPAs toxic. This is upsetting to the American Chemical Council, which says that their product, Bisephenol A, is perfectly safe. One quote from that article said that, “last week, Statistics Canada disclosed that 91 per cent of people tested positive for BPA in their urine, with higher levels for children aged 6 to 11 than for adults over 40. The highest concentrations were in children.”

Most world governments, including the US,  Australia and the EU, have declared that BPAs are mostly safe for human consumption at low levels. However, several countries (even the US) have banned BPA use in products such as baby bottles.

But there are many, many studies supporting both sides of the debate, with the main issue being that studies showing harmful effects of BPAs (even at low does) are hard to reproduce. Scientific American covers the controversy surrounding the issue pretty well.

Wherever you fall on the argument, limiting exposure to possibly toxic chemicals is just another reason to use less plastic. But a life without plastic can be pretty tough. The stuff is ubiquitous! What’s a green-minded consumer to do?

The best way is the simplest, use alternatives.

Whenever possible, refuse plastic, single-use, disposable items. Choose glass, aluminum or paper over plastic whenever you can. Why? Because when items like these are recycled, they can be turned into new and equally useable products. Plastic, not so much. Keeping plastic out of the waste stream is just one more way to make a smaller impact on the Earth, and if it means being a little healthier in the process, even better!

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Greener Eats

Healthy food is currently making a resurgence in popular culture. Even the all-mighty villain of good eats, McDonalds, now offers apple slices as a side choice for their kids meals! As food trends go, I think this one is here to stay. But why exactly are your eating habits so important from a sustainable standpoint?

Whether or not you go fully vegetarian/vegan or remain omnivorous, eating less meat is a cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly way to go. Livestock and meat production is highly land, energy and resource intensive. If you’re in for a long read, the Vegetarian Society has a very in-depth piece on the environmental benefits of going veggie. One of the main points is that worldwide, farmed animals produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s entire transport system (18% of the total vs about 13%).

If that number doesn’t jump out at you, then don’t worry. You don’t need an environmental justification to enjoy vegetables! Cooking without meat (or dairy, if you so choose) allows you to be much more creative. Instead of relying on fat and meat to flavor everything, you get to experiment with the whole rainbow of spices and natural flavors. Plus, cooking your own vegetables means you can make them exactly the way you like them best, whatever that means to you.

Or, if you’re not ready to fully commit to a meat-free lifestyle, you can follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous food writers, Mark Bittman, who writes for the New York Times. Bittman is a member of the growing movement of people who define themselves as “flexitarians”. Not vegan/vegetarian all the time, just more often than not. He sums it up perfectly in this article, titled “Going Vegan, if Only for a Day”.

While I am not personally a vegetarian or vegan, I try and live a little lighter on the planet by choosing more vegan options. One of my favorite ways to do this is by exploring food blogs. There are thousands on the internet, but I’ve found a few vegan/vegetarian blogs that I’m just obsessed with. I’ve shared a few below, I hope you check them out and enjoy them as much as I do!

Produce on Parade

I list her first because Katie, an Alaskan vegan with a healthy sense of humor and adventure, is quickly becoming one of my favorite food blogs – period. She lists tons of comfort food, vegan style. I guess it comes with the territory when you live somewhere that cold! Her awesome recipes come complete with beautiful photographs, so I highly recommend you check them out!

Rockstar Recipe: I have yet to try any of hers yet, but her Coconutty Cinnamon Roll Pancakes look out of this world!

 

Cooking Stoned

No, he isn’t really stoned. However, Jerry James Stone is an EXCELLENT chef. A vegetarian, Stone often dabbles in vegan or gluten-free recipes, all accompanied by cute instructional videos and recipes.

Rockstar Recipe: Everything I’ve made by his recipes has been great, but his Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Crushed Pine Nuts and Parmesan are a hit among all of my friends, and they’re so easy to make!

 

The Vegan Stoner

This website is downright adorable. Every recipe is illustrated by cute, cartoony depictions of the ingredients that look, well, a little high. Sarah Conrique and Graham I. Haynes are the designers behind the recipes and drawings, and their mission is to offer vegan recipes that don’t require an extensive kitchen of ingredients or complicated instructions to prepare.

Rockstar Recipe: I’m a big fan of their Cashew Ambrosia Salad. It’s creamy, nutty and sweet. They even have a cookbook in select stores, with even more doodles and cheap, easy vegan recipes.

Oh She Glows

Angela Liddon’s vegan blog is one of the most popular and established in the genre. She has hundreds of popular recipes, and updates frequently. In addition, some of her recipes are gluten-free, soy-free or free of processed foods. There’s a ton of recipes to choose from, so get ready to fall down the rabbit hole of vegan cuisine.

Rockstar Recipe: I love her Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole for a hearty and flavorful meal. I recommend plenty of her desserts as well, for those with a sweet tooth.

 

Budget Bytes

While this food blog may not be particularly vegetarian or vegan themed, this is my all-time favorite food blog. Beth caters to those with good taste and slim wallets. She does a price breakdown of every recipe for the budget-concious readers, which is great. She has a drop-down menu on the side that has vegan, vegetarian and vegetables categories.

Rockstar Recipe: I’m currently working my way through her recipes, but Beth so far has not disappointed. Recently I made her Island Rice Pilaf  for my roommates and they ate up every bit. Although, to be fair, it’s like that with every one of Beth’s recipes.

 

Bon Appétit!

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