April 22nd is Earth Day and I love any opportunity to celebrate our planet. With an abundance of accessible information, more people are aware of how their food and lifestyle choices impact the environment. What are we collectively doing about it? At SNP, students eat lunch on reusable trays instead of foam disposable ones. Our central kitchen is energy efficient and employees are encouraged (i.e. gifted) a reusable water bottle. We proudly offer a daily vegetarian option to our students and incorporate fresh seasonal produce into menus. Our themed salad event, the APT is a vegetarian plant-based lunch and exposes thousands of students to beautiful and delicious salads.
What else can we do to reduce our carbon footprint and take care of the planet? Commit to making a personal change, even a small one, that can benefit the Earth and her resources. Below are a few suggestions:
- Limit plastic use. If you don’t need a straw, skip it. There are some great stainless-steel reusable straws available or choose paper ones. Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it with you to avoid using (and paying for!) single use bottles. Same thing with bags. Keep reusable totes handy: in your car, in your purse/bag (bag in a bag?), and by the front door. Avoid using single use plastic bags when possible.
- Decrease animal product consumption. Commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet for a set period. Maybe it’s a day, maybe a week? A plant-based diet can have a tremendous impact on health and the environment. The size of the carbon footprint to produce a pound of beef is far greater than a pound of tofu and industrial animal agriculture is associated with antimicrobial resistance as well as a host of other taxing environmental factors.
- Plant a garden. Maybe that’s a pot of herbs on a window sill or a plot in a community garden. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a piece of earth in your backyard that’s begging to be planted. Be realistic and commit to caring for what you grow.
- Decrease food waste. The amount of water, energy, (and feed in the case of animals) it takes to produce, harvest, (raise)and/or process food is staggering. The amount of money wasted as a result of spoilage is even more so. Use the food you buy. Hint: the freezer is your friend! Keep a running log of produce, dairy, and meat and search for recipes by ingredient to use them up as their expiration date nears. For some awesome recipes, check out our new cookbook “A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria”.
Happy Earth Day!