Earth Day Goal 2010 Achieved, What to Pledge for 2011?

Happy Earth Day to you,
Happy Earth Day to you,
Happy Earth Day dear reader,
Happy Earth Day to you!

What are you going to do,
To keep sea and sky blue,
To reduce your C-O-2,
To be green the year through?

HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYBODY!

On Earth Day 2010, I pledged to eat “better” as my Earth Day goal for the year from that day.By “better”, I meant more local and more unprocessed foods, though I didn’t start out defining them that way, nor for the green reasons of food miles. Once I researched more and came to conclude food miles was a myth, though, I ate better for the economy and for my health. I’m sure it still has an environmental impact because I didn’t end up eating food grown in green houses here in the Canadian winter, that would have used up tonnes of excessive energy, but without being able to measure it, I couldn’t claim it for certain. One thing I am more certain, though, is that it saved me money not to be eating out so much as before given I don’t eat processed foods like frozen dinners that tend to be on the cheaper side, though I did eat more fast food than I should have.

How I had set my goals for eating “better” was to spend at least 50% of my groceries expenditures at the farmers’ market rather than the grocery stores. I was able to get more real food at the farmers’ market, if not certified organic, rather than a lot of industrially grown food at the grocery stores that did not have as much nutrients, nor tasted as good, and likely had more chemicals not good for my health. There were also far fewer processed foods at the farmers’ market.

However, I soon found out 50% was too easy to achieve, so I set a more ambitious goal at 66.7% or 2/3 of my groceries expenditures. It may not seem to be a large increase, but because what I got at the grocery store counted against my goal, going from 50% to 66.7% was essentially going from a 1:1 ratio to a 2:1 ratio. That is, if I spent $1 on groceries at the grocery store, instead of having to spend $1 at the farmers’ market initially, I would now have to spend $2. I couldn’t spend money just to buy food at the farmers’ market to get the ratio, of course. I had to eat it while wasting as little as I ever did, and I couldn’t spend on items just outrageous in price compared to similar things I could get at the grocery stores, like $4.50 for a dozen free range organic eggs when they were $2.30 or so in the grocery stores. I had to be a practical and typical consumer, in other words. That also meant I continued to eat processed foods like cereals, pastas, bread, etc. My staples were essentially all processed, including white rice that was minimally processed, but still processed.

Other goals included:

  • Looking at how much I ate that were from outside of Canada to see if I could find made in Canada substitutes.
  • Eating less fast food and drinking less pop.

As of today, one year after I had set my Earth Day 2010, I am proud to say I have achieved my farmers’ market expenditure goals at 66.9% of groceries money spent at the farmers’ market. I technically did not achieve it if you counted straight on money spent, but I had stocked up due to sales. I mean, why wait till the items were expensive again to buy when I could buy them cheap at the time of the sale, save money and just subtract out their totals of what I didn’t eat by Earth Day 2011?

As for what I ate that were made outside of Canada, I only have instant noodles and some Asian stir fry pastes for making stir fried rice. My spices are probably grown outside of Canada, but it doesn’t say that on the bottles. I also buy the occasional exotic tropical fruit. However, as long as their purchases leave me within my 66.7% farmers’ market grocery goal in the future, something I will keep tracking as my finances spreadsheet tracks it, I won’t feel guilty.

I have drastically reduced the amount of fast food I am eating now. That is in large part due to me getting routines together to make work lunches, when I most often ate fast food. This has not only saved me a lot of money, but made my diet so much better!

As for the pop, I no longer have Coke or other pop in my apartment. I only drink Coke now at work after nights when I didn’t sleep well and could use the caffeine and sugar, and occasionally at dinner with friends.

You can see more details of my Earth Day 2010 goal progress through a series of blog posts I did here.

Help me with 2011 Earth Day Pledges

Once again, I am looking to make an annual Earth Day goal to work towards making myself and my lifestyle more environmentally friendly during the year until next Earth Day. It has to be measurable to prove progress, and have an environmental benefit to be appropriate are really the only criteria I have. However, I am having a hard time figuring out such a goal this year because I’ve greened a good number of my life already!

  • Relatively little material possession in my small apartment, though I’m not living like a caveman. I have the minimal comforts of life, but still don’t have a big screen TV, for instance. I have also reduced a lot of excesses from my 2009 Earth Day goal where I reduced my material possessions by a net 377 lbs. I also own no car or other transportation vehicle, only a love seat instead of a sofa, and so on. As part of my 2010 Earth Day goal separate from my eating habit change, I also made no net gain in material possession mass.
  • Minimal powered transportation, and mostly public when used. I have no car and hardly even take transit or cab. I take shuttles to the airport and pretty much walk everything else, including all my groceries for the past couple of years, at least.
  • More natural cookware. I have removed all the plastic bottles, kettle, and non-stick cookware I have.
  • Minimal appliance power usage. My fridge is on the low end for a cold setting. I turn off all my power bars and fridge when I go on vacation, with the latter emptied of food when I go.
  • Take my own bags (and containers) when shopping. I take my own canvas bags and backpacks when I go shopping for anything, not just groceries. For the farmers’ market, though, since not everything is as conveniently packaged as the grocery stores, I also take plastic containers to put in some of the fresh food, from meats to mushrooms. They ultimately end up there in my fridge anyway, storing better there, so why waste some saran wrap, paper bags or other packaging while transporting it home?
  • Very little food wastage. I waste very little food compared to the average Canadian, and Canada as a society that wastes 40% of its food (George Morris Centre study)! Half of that total is from people in households rather than other causes like overproduction by corporations! The 40% is a staggering $2 billion Cdn a year, more than what Canadian spend in restaurants and more than the combined GDP of the poorest 32 countries! Me, I waste so little food that the compost worms would die of starvation (and the SPCA would be after me)! That’s why I don’t compost and why I won’t be despite not doing so.
  • Recycle, including using only used paper for anything I need to write on.
  • Have LED lights, never mind compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
  • Have low flow toilet and low flow shower head.
  • Have green cleaners. Despite having certified green cleaners, I still try to use just water whenever I can.
  • Rinse when I can instead of shower. I don’t use soap in showers when I know I will shower again before I see people. For example, after evening runs when I’m not planning to see people, I rinse because I know I’ll shower before work next morning, at which time I will use soap, though not a lot. I also use all soaps to the last bit. You can criticize the showering all you want, but I’m not planning to be a smelly hermit in being green in my lifestyle. I aim to do good, not be an extremist.
  • Don’t use fans or artificial cooling during summer, though I do need heat during winter.
  • My electricity, heat, water and hot water are all part of my rent so they aren’t measurable for me to reduce their use. However, I can say I am fairly good at conserving them.

So those are the ways I can think of right now where I am green. That’s a pretty impressive list, if I do say so myself! It’s one that’s a dunk on many others who go about bragging they’re green, I can tell you that!

However, in being so green already, I’m having a hard time coming up with something to pledge for Earth Day 2011 after all that other than to keep up my eating well habit gotten in the past year, and not having a net material possession weight gain as I did in the past two years. As said, I do not plan to be an extremist in greening my lifestyle so I won’t be committing to anything like 1 shower a week to save water. But what’s there left for me to do?

Can you suggest something to me?

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