+1 for Norway (my new favorite country)

Sorry Sweden, you’ve just been replaced.

Norway announced last Tuesday that in order to combat climate change they will be feeding their army a vegetarian diet once a week. The goal of this is to reduce the intake of environmentally unfriendly foods (i.e., meat). According to the article, “The UN Food and Agriculture Organization attributes 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions to livestock farming.”

Now I know what all you meat eaters out there are thinking: We’re carnivores and always have been! We need meat to survive! Vegetables are unnatural creations!

Slow your roll there, veggie haters. Let me point out that the popular movement of “Meatless Monday” is incredibly popular. And have you tried meat substitutes? My boyfriend went vegetarian a few months ago and introduced me to the wonder that is MorningStar Farms buffalo wings. Not only are they delicious, they’re a lot healthier than other frozen nuggets (which generally aren’t real chicken meat).

The article says that by going meatless on mondays, the diet will cut the army’s meat intake by 150 tons a year.

Now I’m not personally a vegetarian. I enjoy Publix’s blazing buffalo chicken breast from the deli in a sandwich every now and again, and their fried chicken gets me every time. But I do try to limit my meat intake to one or two days a week. I’ve found a multitude of great vegetarian recipes on the internet. I don’t eat salad every day and I don’t snack on carrots. I enjoy coconut curry and hearty potato soups regularly.

Keep an eye out for my next blog, as it will probably be related to this one. I’m feeling inspired.

Where do you find plastic in nature?

I work at a grocery store as a cashier. While at work yesterday, I got to thinking about my blog and what I would write my next post on. The answer was in my hands!

Can you name a substance in nature that feels like plastic bags do? I can’t.

I took a trip up to Washington DC last year to visit my friend. While we were checking out at Whole Foods (which is like the Michael Kors of grocery stores), the cashier asked us if we wanted a bag. We were on our way to a wine and cheese party and had four cheeses, two apples, two oranges, a bottle of juice and some grapes. My friend quickly said no and proceeded to scoop everything up of the counter and continue on his merry way. I asked him why he refused a bag. He blew my mind when he said DC had something called a bag tax.

For every plastic bag you get from a grocery store, they charge you 5 cents. WHOA.

I tried to imagine how infuriated my customers would be if I told them that my store was going to start charging them for every bag they used. I spent a good 30 seconds smiling at the thought of the looks on their faces.

But it makes sense. Take a look at these facts about plastic bags. They’re unnatural and end up in a landfill for thousands of years. If we were to impose that 5 cent tax, I bet many people would start using reusable bags. Who wants to pay 5 cents for something that’s going to sit in their kitchen cabinet? The same goes for water bottles- how many do we go through in a year? I know before I bought my bobble I would go through a case of water in about two weeks.

Think about investing in reusable bags (just please, please make sure to throw them in the wash when you do laundry. There’s nothing worse than bagging someone’s groceries in a smelly bag.)

Middle Earth/Nature is Wonderful

Buzzfeed is basically the reason I cannot be a productive member of society. Being a huge LOTR/Harry Potter/GOT/anything mildly fantasy related fanatic, I had to post this article:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/paulaersly/fyi-you-can-now-basically-travel-to-middle-earth

Google is amazing and made an interactive map of Middle Earth, which I’ve thoroughly explored and can verify how awesome it is. To relate this to the environment: who wouldn’t want to live in a place where trees can walk and we don’t cut them down to use for paper? And where we can live in the side of hills in the Shire and use nature without destroying it?

Also, here’s a reminder of how beautiful/stunning/perfect nature can be:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/surreal-places-to-visit-before-you-die

Numbers 7, 14, 19 and 24 are even from our own country!

How Not to Fight Air Pollution

I’m looking at you, China.

In the past decade, the number of cases of lung cancer in Beijing have increased by over 50 percent. Just a couple of weeks ago, an eight year old girl was diagnosed with lung cancer! Take a moment to process that: lung cancer is a disease that smokers get. Can you imagine how many harmful chemicals that little girl was breathing in to have lung cancer by her eighth birthday?

Luckily, China has a short term solution for its air pollution disaster (hey, short term solution is better than no solution). They are currently prohibiting coal plants for being built as well as shutting down existing plants. To give you a rough idea of how dependent on coal China is: over three-quarters of their energy needs are met by utilizing coal. Now they’re planning on building synthetic natural gas plants as replacements.

RED FLAG.

Synthetic natural gas (SNG) is created by mining coal and converting it into natural gas. Unfortunately, this process creates 36 to 82 percent MORE greenhouse gas emissions than burning coal directly does. This process also requires a lot of water to take place (18x higher than coal).

These plants are being built in rural areas, so the skies above major cities can remain a beautiful blue for all the tourists to ogle at. The skies around rural areas where farmers, herders, and many ethnic minorities live will turn to a acidic greenish-yellow color before long.

So basically China needs to find a solution that isn’t going to harm its people and destroy its lands/atmosphere. Simple, right?

You can read more about their plans by following this link: http://www.care2.com/causes/china-shows-us-how-to-not-fight-air-pollution.html

Sustainable Fishing

Sustainable Fishing

The title itself sounds kind of silly…how is it possible for us to enjoy the deliciousness that is seafood while also helping conserve the species? Every good New Englander has to enjoy a cup of clam chowder once a season and Seattle is famous for its Pike Place Fish Market.

According to Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, Restoring ocean fisheries in 24 countries could provide a meal for close to a billion people a day. New Englanders can also help ocean ecosystems recover by eating wild fish, choosing small fish, buying fish from the United States and eating mollusks.

It’s well known that farm grown fish are prone to various diseases and deformities. Farmers are genetically modifying our meat to produce the highest profit for themselves. Our world population is ever expanding, which is already putting a strain on our resources. If we continue to harvest our seafood from farms, it strains the land ecosystem.

At the rate we are going we will eventually have to choose between biodiversity and feeding people; I’m not 100% sure everyone would make the right choice.

Sweden Imports Trash

Sweden Imports Trash

Now this article is what I call environmentally savvy! Apparently the great country of Sweden has been importing their trash from neighboring parts of Europe to be used as fuel. Let me repeat that: Sweden is taking trash and making it into energy!

According to the article, “Sweden has recently begun to import about eight hundred thousand tons of trash from the rest of Europe per year to use in its power plants. The majority of the imported waste comes from neighboring Norway because it’s more expensive to burn the trash there and cheaper for the Norwegians to simply export their waste to Sweden. In the arrangement, Norway pays Sweden to take the waste off their hands and Sweden also gets electricity and heat.”

Now for all you naysayers out there: yes, it’s not particularly good because it creates a lot of air pollution. There are also heavy metals in the ash which need to be landfilled. Sweden sends these ashes back to Norway to dispose of.

But let us think for a minute: how much land are they saving by exporting their trash? Wouldn’t Norway have a lot more landfills if they just dumped their trash in there like we do in America? Yeah, they would. I know most people have driven by a landfill before and I think we can all agree that the smell is definitely not pleasant.

While this isn’t a long-term solution, it works very well for now. Sweden gets energy, electricity and heat, and Norway gets free trash removal. What’s not to love?