This summer I wanted to see what small things I could do to improve my environmental friendliness. Caring about my environmental impact is important to me, and it is challenging to work with this in everyday life. If I were to minimize my impact I wouldn’t own a car, use only public transport, grow all of my own food and never buy meat. However, I like to visit my family and I travel for work, two things that can upend all the rest of my efforts. With this in mind, it is easy to get discouraged and think that it isn’t worth doing anything. But it is. It really is worth doing, and here are some of the things that I like to do.
My small summer garden makes me happy. I mostly grow lettuces because in Utah, I need to grow something that has quick maturation. This gives me appreciation for my food and makes me less likely to let veggies spoil during the year. There are lots of ways to make small garden plots work. I bury wood under the soil in order to encourage healthy soil fungi.
Compost is the easiest thing ever. All you need is a spot in your yard, and a bit of motivation. I put anything that doesn’t have meat in my compost, layering food and wet things with straw. You can use wood chips or dry dead leaves instead of the straw. Compost makes me happy for a lot of reasons. It keeps methane out of landfills, it prevents my need to buy soil for my garden, and it lessens how much trash I throw out.
Pot and Pan Coatings
There is this awesome technology that helps me cook the best steak, pancakes, eggs, and stew. It is pretty revolutionary and has been since the early 1800’s — cast iron. It is really easy to clean, it can handle any abuse, and can last a hundred years. Nonstick cookware on the other hand wears through, winding up in the landfill and, worse, uses PFOA in manufacturing. The PFOA is burned off before the consumer gets the Teflon pan, but it stays in the atmosphere for a long time. PFOA is considered a carcinogen, so I cook with cast iron.
I have these great laundry detergent container panniers that take about 20 seconds to put onto my bike. That way, if I am going to do a local errand, I have absolutely zero excuses not to do it on my bike.
There are so many things I love about hunting. I love the sunrises, smell of fall, sneaking around the woods and trying not to get noticed by the smallest animals. I love being part of the ecosystem in a way that reminds me why food is precious. I especially love not buying red meat. For a pound of beef, a farmer needs to provide about 1800 gallons of water. In the west that is a big deal, and getting to eat meat that I know everything about is a huge plus.
Using my Freezer
Along with pesto that I make with my garden basil, I freeze lots of food, including elk. This means that when I see a great deal on a gallon of curry, I can feel great about buying it and freezing it in silicone muffin tins. By freezing in muffin tins, I can assemble ziplock bags of the perfect serving size for all sorts of things!
Recycling is really easy once you get into it. Many towns have zero sort, and if yours doesn’t, you can always presort at home.
I don’t shop that often, but when I do I try to buy things that are built to last and are built sustainably. For that reason, I love buying Bergans gear. Environmentally friendly fabrics have been part of their clothing way before it was a trend, and they often forget to even mention it in their marketing.
These are just a few of the things I like to do. What are your favorite small steps?