|Cooked, dried limas, roasted butternut squash, peas, corn, cashew cheese sauce.|
I've always kind of figured I was doing my part to reduce animal cruelty, and also to protect the environment, just by being a vegan. I don't eat or wear animal products, I buy cruelty-free household and personal-care products, and in general, do my best to avoid buying things that are animal-derived. I don't eat honey, wear silk or comfort myself with feathers. I compost and recycle. Good for me, right?
Thirty years ago, when I was living my vegan family life, I didn't have that much to recycle — you couldn't walk into a store and buy a package of any vegan item you felt like having. And, I was a pretty back-to-basics person back then. I measured my dried beans and grains, into reusable containers from the bulk bins at the co-op, or I bought in 25-pound bags. I belonged to a group of friends who formed a buying club, and if the bulk items we purchased were too large for us to use by ourselves, we shared them. We used to buy 15-pound tubs of tahini, split it into jars, and return the tubs for reuse. I bought my tofu like that, too. There was very little waste compared to what I recycle now. It doesn't seem like I even buy very many packaged items, but I'm still alarmed at the recycling we accumulate. Well, I've just experienced something that has me thinking harder about my role in environmental pollution, and how it affects animals — not just the animals who don't die for my use, but animals living thousands of miles away dying from my trash. This may not be a typical food-related post, but please stick with me. I think you'll be glad you did.
|Is the compostable bag really compostable?|
My oldest son teaches high school, and every year he organizes a week-long event coinciding with World Water Week, to highlight an aspect of the environment as it connects with water.
|Last years' tee-shirt design. A sense of humor is important at all times.|
Last year was about sanitation — or, more precisely, the effects of the lack of sanitation on health and the environment. You might think most people have access to toilets, but you'd be wrong. I almost lost my lunch doing research for that one. You might be wondering what my involvement is in all this. Well, guess who is the pro bono graphic designer behind the posters, tee-shirts, water bottles, post cards, etc., that appear in connection to the World Water Week event? This year I didn't have to do the shirts and bottles, but while I was searching for stuff about one of the keynote speakers for a poster, I watched two stunning videos that both moved and disturbed me.
The subject this year is plastic, and the keynote speaker for the public component of this year's event, is Chris Jordan, a renowned environmental artist who lives in the Seattle area. The first video I watched was a TED talk Chris gave about some of the art pieces he had made depicting the usually unseen magnitude of the result of unconscious behaviors we, as individuals take part in without thinking about their impact. I've seen Chris' work before, but obviously I didn't pay enough attention. This time I was hearing an explanation, and as I watched his talk, I was amazed by what he had done. I couldn't get the video to embed, so I'm providing a link.
The second video describes a devastating environmental tragedy on remote, Midway island in the Pacific. There are vast collections of plastic suspended in the sea, and thousands of baby albatrosses die as their parents unwittingly feed them plastic. Please take the time to watch the two videos, and let me know what you are thinking. If you can only watch one, please watch the second. It's especially important to watch to the end. Thank you.
I'm paying closer attention now to how food and other items are packaged, and how I can use less packaging. It's hard and frustrating sometimes to figure out how to do this. I always bring my own bags when I shop, but that's small potatoes in the larger picture. I'm interested in your thoughts.