You + Earth = BFFS: Being Mindful of Our One & Only Planet
Earth Day is here and what better way to celebrate our beautiful planet than to be mindful of the waste we create! We live in a convenience-driven world. People are praised if they can make something cheaper, faster, and easier to access and highly valued when it saves us time, but often these inventions become detrimental to our ecosystems.
This Earth Day, Wednesday April 22nd, I challenge you to: A PLASTIC FREE DAY and perhaps even inviting the whole family to join efforts to reduce overall waste by playing the R.E.D.U.C.E. Game or engaging in some of the suggestions below.
Humanity has caused much harm to the planet, resulting in more extreme weather patterns, enormous out of control fires, a reduction of natural habitats, an increase in species extinction. However, there is hope for humanity and nature to once again thrive alongside one another. This will not be easy because it requires breaking habits, trying new foods, or growing your own, and the changes needed often require people to step outside of their comfort. Some changes I have incorporated into my lifestyle is to minimize plastics, eat a plant-based diet, grow some of my own veggies and I started researching and buying products from companies who are B-corps.
These changes are something that everyone can take proactively and you don’t need to wait for government legislation or the next flood to force a community change. I find it helpful to form connections with like-minded organizations and people in my direct community like, Wise Tribe and UNLITTER, to build support, learning opportunities, and especially for collaboration when it comes to inspiring change in others.
I never saw myself as a “leader” yet others attach that label to me because I have become more vocal in sharing my love and commitment to healing nature and humanity and therefore cannot help but inspire others to join this necessary global effort. If you have time, or find you are bored during some of the downtime of COVID19 pandemic shutdown, take some time to research local organizations and get involved NOW. Of course I would love for you to become a #1000WiseTriber with me because we can definitely use the help right now (trying to feed 40 families for 6 weeks). There are endless ways to get involved and start making small changes.
- You can do your part on a daily basis by utilizing your purchasing power to show companies what you want to support; it’s as easy as supply and demand. As consumers, we create the marketplace we want! Use Earth Day or the whole week ahead as a challenge to start being more mindful of the products you purchase, where did they originate, what are the ingredients I can’t even pronounce, what kind of package does it come in?
- Cooking zero-waste meals, making your own natural home and self-care products, or walking to the grocery store (in ordinary times) are all such empowering acts. Seeing a trash can fill up so quickly with just a few takeout containers breaks my heart, so I decided to give you all the tools you need to learn the essentials of living a zero-waste day!
*Disclaimer I believe that it is not always the most functional to be 100% zero-waste, so don’t kill yourself over it. If you’re trying that’s a good enough start! I’m going to aim these tips towards a plastic-free and reduced waste day, because you can reuse and recycle your “trash” too!
Play the R.E.D.U.C.E Game This Week!
Eat more whole foods.
Ditch the paper goods.
Use containers, not plastic baggies.
Create uses for garbage.
One of the biggest contributors to our trash cans is from cooking. This week for meal planning Hit The Produce Aisles!
The amazing thing about taking care of the planet is that it coincides with taking care of yourself. Choosing to buy plastic-free items helps reduce your consumption of processed foods and opens doors to eating more whole foods.
An easy example would be choosing to buy a bunch of apples rather than containers of applesauce. The apples will contain more fiber to feed your gut microbes, less sugar, no added preservatives, and probably more nutrients compared to the apple sauce on the shelf. Just as the apple is good for you, eating it fresh removes the waste from the production of applesauce from polluting the Earth.
- Grocery Shopping Tip: Have you ever noticed the layout of a grocery store?
For many stores it’s best to shop only on the outside aisles- think about it – those aisles are either the refrigerated or produce sections, these are the foods that are less processed and can also have less packaging. Choosing to eat whole plant foods is the safest bet to reduce waste, preserve the planet, and fuel your body all in one bite!
Here are a entree recipes on my site you can make to celebrate a plastic-free day!
- Black bean sweet potato burger, skip buying the bun and use a lettuce wrap, choose to make sweet potato fries with them if you want it to be more filling!
- Sweet potato gnocchi
Note About Bulk Buying: Typically bulk shopping is the main go-to for plastic-free shopping, however during this pandemic groceries have shut down their bulk sections and pre-packaged items in plastic containers so funny enough we won’t be shopping there! For the future, I recommend finding a bulk department near you that you can bring reusable jars and containers to fill up on staples like: rice, beans, oats, granola, dried fruit, nuts etc.
We all have daily habits that have developed over weeks or years and we simply don’t think about their consequences. I encourage you to be mindful of your daily habits, keep a list for the day about what you toss. Try to R.E.D.U.C.E. your waste this week!
5 Mindful Daily Habit Swaps:
- Keurig Coffee pods → a reusable pod, brew a pot of coffee, or green tea.
- Napkins → cloth napkins or wash your hands when you’re through.
- Plastic Cutlery → real dishes that will save you money long term.
- Soap bottles → bar soap made from natural ingredients: LUSH is my go-to store! Honestly their shampoo is the only one that can de-grease my crazy hair!
- Plastic Water Bottles → a reusable one!
Food for further thought:
Grow some of your own food or subscribe to a CSA to receive local farm fresh seasonal produce. Plants, both trees and crops, play a huge role in reducing climate change. Trees sequester and utilize CO2, a main greenhouse gas. While eating local seasonal organic crops reduces transport emissions, pesticide and fertilizer usage, and promotes a more natural agriculture field that will increase biodiversity and create habitat for native species.
This is a lot to take in, it’s a lifestyle change that won’t happen overnight. I am always trying to learn and adopt new practices of mindfulness into my life. Cooking, eating, and shopping mindfully may save you a lot of money and the planet a lot of suffering. Treat yourself and the planet special this week and hopefully it inspires you for weeks to come!
Happy Earth Day! May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.
“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”,
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida. She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement. When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.