Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This Week: Bamboo, Biking, and Letting Go (5/14/19)

Rocky Butte, Portland

This was a week of letting go. 

Letting go of the lie that I can control things.

Letting go of the need to have certain outcomes.

Letting go of societal norms about what I should do with my body, how I should contribute to our household, and how much I should be planning ahead.

Letting go is scary, but it’s amazing how many things still hold together even when I’m not desperately clutching them. 

Here’s what else we’ve been up to this week...

Harvesting bamboo shoots. I knew that bamboo shoots were edible, but I didn’t think that the thirty-foot tall timber bamboo in Gary’s backyard would be suitable for eating. Apparently I was wrong! Zach harvested some shoots over the course of a few days, and last night we peeled them, sliced them in half, boiled them for an hour, then chopped them up into a stir-fry (as per these instructions). They are yummy! A nice firm texture with a mild, warm taste. 

Planting tomatoes and peppers. Zach and I have been trying to hold out on putting tomatoes and peppers in the ground until the soil was truly warmed, but with a week of nonstop rain forecast, we decided to plant them yesterday. The local nursery, Shorty’s, has so many tomato varieties that I was giddy with decision-making, but we finally settled on Cherokee Purple, Early Girl, Amish Paste, San Marzano, Green Zebra, and Sungold cherry tomatoes. I also bought some purple and orange bell peppers, a red pepper for roasting, and an ancho for making chile powder. Zach is hoping to add some hotter peppers to the collection when we visit the farmers market next time. We also have yet to get seeds in the ground (corn, beans, squash, cucumbers, dill, basil, and nasturtium), but hoping to do that today.

Making oat milk. I had read about this a while ago, but decided to give it a try this week. Like nut milk, it’s super easy to make (I used this recipe, but with more maple syrup), and the taste is light and refreshing. 

Cute duck!
My longest bike ride to date. Gary, Zach and I biked a good-sized chunk (somewhere between 20 and 25 miles) of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a paved track that runs past farmland (we saw heirloom cattle, muscovy ducks, a barn cat, and miniature goats, as well as a group of people playing cricket) and climbs into the forested hills. Biking up the gentle but never-ending incline was murder after a while, but on the way back I don’t think I pedaled at all for ten minutes at a time. My (ahem) glutes were searing with pain by the end of the ride (though they immediately stopped hurting when I got off the bike), but honestly, the other other side effects were tight shoulders and sore wrists. My legs are like Captain America: they could do this all day. 

Those are America's legs.

Reading: The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living by Wendy Tremayne. I wasn’t a fan of most of this book, but it’s not actually the book’s fault— I’ve just grown weary of reading stories of yet another six-figure-income urban couple deciding to quit their jobs and live off the land with almost no money (read: about as much money as Zach and I spend each year). Sigh. On one hand, I’m happy that people who have given years of their life to drudgery can find a way to break free, but on the other hand... I just have a hard time connecting. Despite my grumpiness, this book was interesting to read, and I did appreciate its focus on “making”: not just growing food as most homesteading books focus on, but welding, electrical work, sewing, fiber arts, wildcrafting, carpentry, fuel-making, and more. I’ve become inspired to learn some more hands-on skills, as this is an area of education where I’m sorely lacking. Inspiration is always good.

I also posted another installment of my Greener Year Challenge series. Have you checked it out yet?

What have you been up to this week?


Friday, May 10, 2019

The Greener Year Challenge: Optimize Energy (May)

It's no secret that finding and creating energy is one of the biggest concerns of any country. And from the Middle East to the Standing Rock Reservation, from strip-mined mountains to devastating oil spills— wherever we are trying to extract energy, you don't have to look far to find controversy, pollution, and cultural and environmental devastation. Nobody in the modern industrial world can truly disconnect from these threads that connect us to energy-related conflict.

It's a lot to handle.

Most of us, due to the enormity of the problem, tend to change our lightbulbs and then mentally clock out. Someone else is fixing it, we think, or renewable energy is going to swoop in and save the day. And while there is truth in both these statements, the energy problem is going to be extremely difficult— if not impossible— to solve at our current rate of consumption. 

So what's the most important thing an individual can do?

Consume less.

It can be difficult, and it's not very sexy, but dialing down our consumption is a crucial part of creating a world in which everyone can coexist. We owe it to the earth and to our fellow human beings to consider our energy habits in light of what the planet can handle: if everyone on the planet consumed energy and resources like Americans, we'd need four additional earths to support the lifestyle.

Consumption appears in many different ways. There's operational energy, the energy used in running electricity, gas, water, and so on. But there's also embodied energy: the total amount of energy used to create a product. So a lightbulb doesn't just use energy when it's lit up; it holds the embodied energy of the entire manufacturing process, from mining the raw materials to assembling and shipping them. 

Thinking about embodied energy can make things much more complicated, so if you're new to this idea, don't stress out about it; just be aware that almost every consumer good— from water and food to electronics and household goods— has a long and infinitely tangled supply chain. The less we use, the better.

Here are some ideas for what that looks like in practice. 


(I combined these two levels because most of these suggestions can be practiced or applied in varying degrees. Pick what feels right for you.)

Try a "Buy Nothing New" challenge. For a certain length of time (a week if the idea sounds insane, a month or longer if not), don't buy anything other than food and consumables. The details are up to you (Will you buy anything secondhand? Do restaurant meals count as "food" or as "unnecessary"?), but figure out the ground rules and give it a try. All material goods have embodied energy,  so the longer you can go without buying something new, the better! During this time, if you need something other than food or consumables, first ask if you can use something you have, and if not, whether you can borrow it, make it, find it for free, or buy it at a thrift store. Also pay special attention to complex devices such as phones; the embodied energy in their manufacturing is truly staggering, so by putting off replacing your phone for as long as possible, you're likely saving more energy than you would by changing all the lightbulbs in your neighborhood. 

Eat less conventionally-raised meat, dairy, and eggs. In terms of baby steps, this is actually one of the biggest things you can do to consume less energy. Conventionally-farmed meat has a staggering amount of embodied energy; in fact, if everyone in the US ate vegan just three meals (not days, meals) per week, some people estimate it would have the same energy impact as taking 7.6 million cars off the roads. (See this post for vegetarian meal ideas.) You can also focus on finding sources of sustainably-raised animal products; Eat Wild is a good place to start, as is your local farmers market. 

Do an energy audit of your house. Energy.gov has a good basic checklist, talking about leaks, insulation, electricity use, and more. (Changing your lightbulbs or installing "draft dodgers" under doors are both good first steps!)

Ease off on climate control. Keeping your house colder in the winter and warmer in the summer is not just better for your budget and your immune system (you don't get shocked by a forty-degree temperature difference every time you step outside), but it also saves a lot of energy. Try changing the thermostat to two degrees cooler/warmer to start with and see if you adjust. And of course, if the weather is nice, be sure to open the windows!

Drive less. Everyone knows that cars guzzle energy, so this is a good leverage point for optimizing your energy use. Think about the last ten places you drove to and consider if all of them were necessary. Were any of them caused by not planning ahead (going to the store to grab one item, doing two trips to the same area for two errands that could've been done together)? Were any of them accessible by walking, biking, or public transit? Is there an option of ridesharing/carpooling for any of the places you drive? Simply being mindful of your driving— and planning ahead— can help you save gallons of precious gas every week.

Notice any water or food waste happening in your home. Purifying water for human consumption is extremely energy intense (especially anywhere arid); food embodies the energy of both the land required to grow it and the pesticides, herbicides, fossil-fuel derived fertilizers, and other inputs; and so on. Check for water leaks, don't leave the faucet running when you're not using it, do inventory of your fridge every couple days to spot food before it goes bad, eat leftovers, and be sure that you're not buying more food than you can eat. 

Figure out where your energy comes from. What is the primary source of energy in your state— oil, coal, natural gas, geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, wind? What kind of environmental impact does this source of energy have? Are there any renewable energy initiatives in your state? (For instance, in Missouri, you can register and pay a small premium to have a percentage of your energy bill "come from" a new solar project being built at the St. Louis airport. Your state might have something similar.) 

Learn more about carbon footprints. Although not a direct indicator of energy use, a carbon footprint is the impact that your energy use has on the planet. The Nature Conservancy has an in-depth interactive guide to help you get a ballpark estimate of how big your carbon footprint is— it's well worth the time to consider.


Spread the word. When you are passionate about a topic, it's important to spread the word. Whether it's helping people get energy audits, offering to help people access lower-impact food, sharing infographics about energy use, or volunteering with a nonprofit, there are many ways to get involved. (I highly recommend reading "No Impact Man" by Colin Beavan.) 

Stop eating factory-farmed animal products. You can do this either by going vegan or (my preference) finding sources of sustainably-raised meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. Eat Wild is an excellent source of information about sustainable animal husbandry in your state. A properly-raised cow is actually a net benefit to the environment because it runs on solar power (by eating grass), enriches the soil with its manure, and helps encourage healthy grasslands. And if you're ready for a step up from that…

Eat a diet of only local, low-energy food. Animal products are obvious candidates to cut out, but other kinds of foods have high energy tolls as well: any food grown in an unnatural climate (water-hungry almonds in arid California; tomatoes raised in hothouses), foods that degrade or destroy biodiversity ("grass-fed" cattle raised in clear-cut rainforest areas; anything with palm oil in it), and so on. One of the best ways to shrink your energy footprint is to get most or all of your food from local sources, where you can talk to the farmers and see how their farming practices are helping or hurting the land. 

Swear off long-distance travel for a while. Traveling long distances, whether by plane or by car, uses a ton of energy, so if you're serious about cutting your energy use, this can be a significant place to start. Take a vacation closer to home (perhaps within biking distance) or have a staycation. 

Go off-grid. Do you have the means to set up solar panels, a windmill, or some other off-grid source of energy? The more we can decentralize our power sources, the less we have to rely on huge infrastructure. 

Get rid of your car. Buying an electric car is also an option, but of course the best thing once again is to consume less. If you can design your life so that walking, biking, public transit and the occasional ride-share service can fill all your needs, this is one of the most impactful ways to lighten your energy load on the planet.

Which of these challenges would you like to take on this month? What would you add to the list?


Previous posts in this series:

Getting Started
Celebrate Biodiversity (April)

Thursday, May 9, 2019

This Week: Greens and Soybeans (5/9/19)

Tidbits from the past week (or so)…

Farmers market dinner. I made a dinner almost entirely out of ingredients bought at the farmers market: Italian sausages, roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes, potato-peel chips, and pears for dessert. The only non-local ingredients were salt, pepper, and butter. It was darn delicious too!

Homemade tofu. It turns out that making tofu is relatively easy! Zach and I took a couple cups of soybeans and two teaspoons of nigari (magnesium chloride) brine and managed to turn them into a pound of delicious tofu. It was awesome! We used this method, and took zero pictures. It was a fun process and pretty cheap, too. We ate the tofu with a sesame-sugar glaze on top of Vietnamese noodle bowls. Next soy-based protein food to make: tempeh!

Arugula! This is still basically the only crop we're getting from our garden (although the radishes and cilantro are coming in), but at least it's delicious. Peppery arugula grows quickly and is delicious on pizza, in stir-fries, or simply eaten in a fruit-heavy salad.

Lemon balm
Lemon balm. Lemon balm is a literal weed around here, so we foraged a huge bag and dehydrated it for tea. Yummy.

Cards. I've been feeling compelled to make art lately, which I do in the form of cards. If you would like me to draw and send you a card, let me know!

Reading: Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl and Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters. These books are similar in that they're memoirs centered around food, involving shaking off the fifties, drinking a lot in the sixties, and trying to live the revolution in the seventies. I enjoyed both, but for the general reader, Tender at the Bone is better-written and more accessible.

What have you been up to?


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Importance of Baby Steps

Me, learning how to get through a piano lesson without crying in frustration. 
I've always hated not being instantly good at things.
What a perfect segue into this post...

Imagine that you walk into a room with a piano, and a small child is seated on the bench, playing scales. It's clear that this child has just started lessons, because she is fumbling through the patterns, trying to get her fingers to cooperate. Still, she is playing, and working hard at it. She notices you standing there and stops, blushing.

Do you say…

A) "You're learning piano— that's awesome!"

B) "Geez, some pianist you are— you can't even play a Beethoven sonata!"

If you answered A), that's my favorite answer. If you answered B), you're either delightfully sarcastic or a terrible human being.

Nobody gets upset at a beginning piano student for playing only scales.

But a lot of us get impatient with ourselves for doing the equivalent of scales when we start to learn a new skill.

For instance, since I posted the first of my “Greener Year Challenge” series last week, I’ve been encouraged to have a few people reach out to me and promise to take steps toward being more eco-friendly. A common thread in these interactions, though, is an almost embarrassed attitude: “I know it’s not much, but I’m going to try this thing," or, "I'm taking this step, but it's a baby step." 
At this point in my life I couldn't have told you 
anything about the relationship of modern industrial 
agriculture to soil fertility, climate change, or 
neocolonialism in the global south. I was focusing 
instead on not getting sun in my eyes.
I think everyone, especially me, needs this reminder:

Baby steps are good.

Baby steps are crucial.

As adults, we're used to doing things that we're already good at; we've already done the "scales," so to speak, which support a wealth of habits and skills that we can readily pick up. But when we try someone truly new to us, we don't have the groundwork that makes it easy to learn. We get frustrated with the timeline and upset at ourselves.

But math begins with addition, not algebra. Drawings begin with shapes, not the Mona Lisa. Gardening begins with keeping alive a couple of plants, not planting a subsistence farm. 

Scales don't sound very impressive, and they can be tedious to practice, but you have to master them if you want to play a Beethoven sonata.

If you practice long enough, you'll get comfortable with scales, and you can add another skill on top of that. And when you've mastered that skill, another one. Eventually you'll learn to play a sonata, but even then you're not done: there are always new songs to play, new techniques to hone, new skills to build. It's an ongoing process. That's how you learn to play the piano, or draw, or cook, or rebuild a car engine: one baby step at a time.

When we grow frustrated with ourselves, we need to imagine that we are that child at the piano, doing her best. Yes, someone with a year of piano lessons would play the scales better. But that child hasn't been playing for a year, so you can give her some grace. (And if she's still not playing well after a year, you can gently ask yourself if there's another approach that could help her out, or if she should decide to quit the piano and take up ballet.) Please, don't berate this child inside you for taking baby steps. She is brave, because learning something from scratch is really hard.

So if you choose to take any of the Greener Challenges— or any other new skill or habit you want to learn— don’t try to tackle too much. Pick one thing. Focus on making it a habit. Explore it. Have fun with it. Fumble through some scales, and don’t worry about the sonatas for now. The important thing is that you start.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

What I've Been Reading: Early Spring 2019

My attempts to actually keep up on my favorite books I've been reading!

Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon 
A young urban couple in B.C., Canada made the decision to only eat food grown within a hundred-mile radius of their house for a year, and this is the tumultuous story of how they succeeded. They take turns writing chapters (both are excellent wordsmiths), giving two perspectives on the challenges and joys of eating only locally. Along the way, we learn a ton about the natural history of the Northwest, analyze the broken industrial food system, and see that bread solves everything. My favorite part of the book were J.B. Mackinnon's lush descriptions of the pre-industrial Northwest, encouraging readers to consider how much has been lost in terms of biodiversity, yield, and resilience. Also, the couple just seemed like nice people. Highly recommended.

Okay, yes, it's a dumb title— and both the title and some vehement critiques I'd read kept me from this book for far too long— but it's one of the most approachable and comprehensive books about food issues that I've read yet. People criticized Kingsolver for being arrogant and pushy, for trying to tell everyone that they had to be exactly like her. However, when I finally read the book, I found it to be nothing of the sort.
Written in the same year as Plenty, it has the same premise, except a four-person family on a homestead in Virginia, with a 250-mile radius, and a much less purist attitude. It's part memoir, part explanation of various agricultural practices, part calm and steady rant about everything that's wrong with our food system. Her tone is friendly and approachable, and although hints of smugness show up from time to time, mostly she stays focused on a heartfelt argument for us to stop destroying the planet through the things we eat. She's also really funny. If you're new to food issues, this book is a perfect place to start learning.


10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works— a True Story by Dan Harris  News anchor Dan Harris's memoir about everything that led up to his nervous breakdown on the air, and how non-religious meditation helped him get control of his life. Honest and engaging, a thought-provoking read.

Lamott's sardonic and beautiful advice for learning to tell the truth through writing. Recommended for anyone who wants to write, either professionally or just for themselves.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I had never actually read it all the way through. Neville Longbottom is my hero.

What have you been reading? What should I add to my list?


Thursday, April 25, 2019

April in Portland, a Story in Pictures

Pansies are one of my favorite flowers!

Two months have passed since Zach and I arrived in Portland. The maples have leafed out, the weather is growing warm and humid, and that same hummingbird is currently perched on the fir tree outside my window. 

April has been a month of quiet beauty, of bird-watching and hiking and cooking, so I thought I'd tell some of the story in pictures, as follows:

We had our first garden harvest of the year! The rocket arugula lived up to its name by shooting up with enthusiasm, and was delicious sprinkled over the top of pork adovada tacos. 

These woods are bursting with oyster mushrooms! We've also been foraging lots of stinging nettle for eating on pasta, in smoothies, and as tea.

We've enjoyed hiking here and there: Powell Butte and Forest Park, most notably. 

My brother Eric was in town on tour with Francesca Battistelli! He got me VIP seats at the show and was able to give him a whirlwind tour of downtown Portland.

Zach is contemplating how to dam this pond in the nearby woods.

The Easter bunny brought us some amazing treats this year! The homemade peanut butter cups were the best…

We hiked to Pittock Mansion for a lovely view of the city.

Also, I started a blog series about green living and am ridiculously excited about putting together these resources. Have you checked it out yet?


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Greener Year Challenge: Celebrate Biodiversity (April)

Did you know that each year, Earth Day has a theme? This year, the theme is Protect Our Species. If you're like me a year ago, you know that polar bears and orangutans are struggling in the wild, but you probably don't know the full extent of the damage: scientists now estimate that dozens of species are going extinct every day

This is one of those global-scale problems that seems insurmountable for individuals to tackle, and it's tempting to simply look away. However, thinking about biodiversity— the number and distribution of living organisms in an ecosystem— is a great place to start considering how to live a greener year. 

We need to appreciate the incredible tapestry of life before we can learn how to save it. We need to understand that all life is connected, that we are intricately bound up in our environments and ecosystems, and that taking care of the earth means taking care of ourselves. 

You don't have to save the world— remember, we need thousands of people making imperfect steps, not just a few doing things "perfectly." Just start with one tiny step, at home. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Learn about the species in your area. Can you name any of the birds, bugs, trees, or plants in your neighborhood? Learning about them is a great place to start understanding what they need and how you can help! Check out a field guide, ask a knowledgeable friend, or just do Internet searches (“black bird with orange stomach in my state”) to help you get acquainted. 

Plant some flowers. Bees, butterflies, and other bugs thrive when they have a diverse array of flowers to drink from. Be sure that the flowers haven’t been sprayed with any pesticides. If you don’t have a yard or patio, see if you can plant in a friend’s yard, or throw a seed bomb into the nearest abandoned lot. 

Don’t use pesticides. When working in your yard, avoid pesticides (and herbicides, while you’re at it). These are especially poisonous for native bees or anything else that nests in the ground, and we depend on these insects to pollinate our crops and flowers.

Think about where your food came from. Before it was in the grocery store, where was your food grown? Do you know in which state, country, or region it was farmed? What kind of ecosystems, places, and people might've been impacted along the way? What kind of labels does it have— Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fair Trade, Shade Grown— and what do these labels mean? Pick two or three foods you eat most commonly and figure out how they're grown (the Internet is your friend with this kind of research). You don't have to change any of your eating habits yet; just focus on educating yourself.


Learn about threatened species in your area. No matter where you live, there is probably a native species of plant, amphibian, insect, or other critter that needs help. In Missouri for instance, monarch butterflies are the most prominent icon of species in danger, but there are over two dozen species of native plants and animals considered to be threatened. Your state conservation department (here's Missouri's) is a great place to learn if there's anything you can do to help preserve biodiversity in your own region. 

Focus on making your yard nature-friendly. If you own a yard, you have a wonderful chance to create a haven for local wildlife. Think about animals’ needs: water, food, forage, cover. Again, aim for diversity: a circle of flowering shrubs, creeping vines and herbaceous ground cover is much more conducive to diversity than a neat bed of a single kind of flower.

Find local farmers who value biodiversity. One of the huge players in destroying biodiversity is industrial/conventional farming, especially in the global south, so the food you eat is a huge leverage point for living greener. Check out farms, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture near you with LocalHarvest.org and EatWild.com, then take some time to research the farmers' growing methods. Do they plant in huge single-crop blocks, or smaller "patchwork" fields? How do they manage weeds and pests without destroying helpful native flora and fauna? Are they doing anything to improve the biodiversity of their land? When you find local farmers who have built their business around taking care of the earth, make a plan to support them as much as you're able.


If you own a lawn, murder it. Here's how. If you want a low-maintenance yard, pave over the lawn with perennial plants (both native and exotics that do well in your region), but if you don't mind a bit more work, consider planting fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and/or vegetables along with the flowers.

Eat only local food for a few days. Again, one of the best ways to promote biodiversity is to decrease your reliance on far-flung food sources, so challenge yourself to a three-day (or week-long, or month-long) local-food-only challenge. What kinds of foods can you source from your backyard, the surrounding area, and local farms? What is missing? What did people traditionally eat in your bioregion? How can you rearrange your habits to rely more on the foods that are readily available in your immediate surroundings?

Get involved in an organization that supports biodiversity. If you find yourself coming back again and again to the problem of biodiversity, it's a sign that you're ready to make it your "pet cause." Consider how you can become part of an organization dedicated to the protection of our precious species— whether on a local, national, or global scale. Give your time and money to the cause, and spread the word. 

Start an initiative to promote biodiversity. Perhaps you want to convince your city to stop using pesticides in its parks or to protect the wetlands along the river. Maybe you want to tackle a HOA ordinance against growing vegetables in the front yard or keeping chickens. Or you're interested in getting more people to plant wildflower gardens, or to come together as a community to pick up trash. If you have a cause that you want to champion, I encourage you to get started right away! Read about others who have tackled similar issues in their communities. If necessary, attend city council meetings and talk to your councilperson. Find allies in your community to help you out. Oftentimes, policy changes on a city level happen because just a few people come together to speak up about an issue that's important to them.

What are you going to try this month? What would you add to the list?


Monday, April 22, 2019

The Greener Year Challenge: Getting Started

Most of us, by now, know that we should probably live a "greener," more eco-friendly life.

Most of us have some sense that the earth is heating up, the weather is getting crazy, and that cute animals are dying. We should probably recycle, buy a metal straw, and try not to waste water. But when we wade in any deeper than that, the issues seem so big and overwhelming, and any individual action feels so tiny, that we get overloaded and shut down. Or, as a friend recently told me, “I want to be eco-friendly, but I just don’t know where to start.”

Or maybe you don’t identify with that. Maybe you feel pretty good about where you are, earth-wise. You recycle and compost and buy secondhand, and carry a canvas bag and don’t eat meat on Mondays. But you get a nagging sense that that’s not enough.

Or you’re at a higher level still, and you’re fed up with all these articles telling you to make little changes when you feel like something radical needs to happen or your head is going to explode. “I already make my pumpkin seed milk from scratch,” you scream at the computer. “Give me something better to do!”

This blog series is for all three kinds of people, and hopefully some in between. This series is about baby steps for beginners, bigger steps for intermediates, and perhaps a leap or two for people who have mastered both. Being eco-conscious is a journey, and there is much to learn both from looking up and down the continuum of eco-friendly actions. It’s better to do something rather than nothing, even if it’s a tiny step.

I nearly titled the series “Green Habits” because most of what I’m going to suggest are habits, not just one-time deals. Carrying reusable bags is a habit. Cooking from scratch is a habit. Talking to people about climate change is a habit. Once you form a habit, it’s a part of your life that requires little effort; it’s easier to be eco-conscious when you don’t have to actually be conscious about it.

Environmentalists argue fiercely over how effective individual action is— and I agree that government and corporate policy are going to have to play a role here. But large-scale change is spurred on and validated by individual action. You do make a difference. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t.

As you journey with me through the months, choose the ideas that make sense for you, and ignore the rest. I don’t put all of them into practice, and not all steps are feasible in all scenarios. I simply encourage you to do something. As one of my favorite bloggers, Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef, says, “We don’t need a handful of people [being eco-friendly] perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

On Wednesday I'll be posting the first "real" installment of the series. Let's get started on this journey, together. Happy Earth Day!

See all posts here:

Celebrate Biodiversity (April)