A gift certificate for a plant based cooking class makes a great father's day gift!

REact or PREact?

6 May 2024

I have the answer to climate change…scale down! All this talk about climate offsets, fossil fuel transition, food system transformation. But consider:

  • standby or “vampire” power accounts for up to 40% of a device's energy use, and up to 10% of all residential energy use
  • Americans drive an average of 14,000 miles per year, with Wyoming drivers nearly doubling that! (fun fact: Alaska, the biggest state, with 6 of the largest oil fields in the US, has the lowest average mileage and highest gas prices)
  • the average American consumes nearly 1000 calories MORE daily than they did 20 years ago (and obesity levels are 10% higher)
  • 30-40% of all food (and inputs) goes in the trash (the average American household wastes over 6 cups of edible food per week)

What does all this tell us?  If we became more efficient with our energy usage (dare I say “thrifty”?), reduced private travel, ate LESS and eliminated food waste, we could have a tremendous impact on the planet. Instead, we're talking mainly about greening the energy supply, getting everyone in an electric car and increasing productivity on our farms.

It's not that I'm against these initiatives…

although here, I'll pause to mention that the best way to reduce the environmental footprint of a car is generally to hold onto it for longer, and “efficiency” in agriculture tends to utilize practices which deplete the soil and replace nature's wisdom with unsustainable “technology” and fossil fuel inputs.

but but we're at an all-hands-on-deck point in this climate situation. Extreme weather, water shortages, rising sea levels, warming oceans and neighborhood-razing fires are already happening!

Cities, states and non-profits are now suing Big Oil for hiding information about climate change from the public, and consumers are fighting back against “greenwashing” (where companies market misleading claims about their sustainability practices). We can demand the freedom to make our own choices, but the truth is that many of our decisions are based on the nudges of others.

Remember the Simpson's episode when Marge buys the 12 lb. box of nutmeg? We don't need to give up what we love to buy what we need and use what we buy. In fact, the science indicates that we appreciate and enjoy our purchases and possessions MORE when we have fewer - and are happier for it. We just need to mindfully choose.

Let's take spinach as an example. At the store, I can refuse to purchase the bunch in a plastic wrapper. Next, I can reduce by buying only what I think I need. I can reuse this bunch of spinach in a salad and a stir fry. Later, if some is left over and wilts in my fridge, I could repurpose it into a soup or a pesto. As a last resort, food scraps can be recycled in my compost bin, where it will provide nutrients to the soil for the next generation of spinach (or whatever I grow in my garden)!

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