It's good for you but is it costing the earth?
Sunday, April 1st, 2007
Eating five servings of fruit and vegetablesBenefits: Fruit and vegetables contain many of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants our bodies need to maintain good health. Different colours indicate different nutrients and compounds. To ensure we get a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, the Five-a-day scheme advocates that we eat a selection of colourful fruit and vegetables every day.
Environmental Cost: The further fruit and vegetables have to travel to get to your plate, the more energy is used. You could be eating asparagus from the U.S., bananas from the Philippines, and grapes from Chile. Transporting these and other foods great distances significantly contributes to greenhouse gasses and climate change. The Green Party estimates that the total of CO2 emissions from producing, processing, packaging and distributing food consumed by a family of four is about 8 tonnes a year.
Green Solution: Buy locally produced food that is in season. Less time in transit means less pollution and deterioration of nutrients. Many foods, even those produced in UK, have covered long distances before we load them into the family car. We can all do our bit for the nation's energy bill, and our greenhouse gas emissions, by buying food that is produced locally or visiting a farmers market to buy your fresh produce. Contact your local council for more information.
Increasing Omega Fatty Acids with fish
Benefits: Fish is an excellent source of high quality protein. It is low in fat, and is an excellent provider of vitamins. Oily fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which convey a multitude of cardiovascular benefits. They reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke and have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Omega 3's also help to boost brainpower and improve memory.
Environmental Cost: The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reports that 75 percent of the world's fish stocks are already fished to capacity, over-fished, or depleted, yet the world-wide demand for fish is still growing. 'Stock depletion has implications for food security and economic development, reduces social welfare in countries
around the world, and undermines the wellbeing of marine ecosystems', says Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director General for fisheries.
Green Solution: According to Nomura, we should eat only sustainable fish and avoid varieties that are in short supply. 'While recovery of depleted stocks is urgent, it is just as important to avoid depleting still-healthy stocks in the first place by matching fishing efforts to that which these stocks are capable of supporting'.
Using hot wash to clean clothesBenefits: The Allergy Organisation recommends washing at 60 degrees in order to kill dust mites in bedding and clothes. This is important in the use a hotter wash to clean whites and to remove stains from clothes.
Environmental Cost: Washing at 60 degrees uses one and a half times as much energy as washing at 40 degrees. Using more energy than we need places an extra strain on fossil fuels, a non-renewable energy source.
Green Solution: If you are concerned about dust mites, you can buy anti-allergy dust mite covers for your bedding. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to cool washes to kill mites. According to the Energy Saving Trust, modern washing powders and detergents work just as effectively at lower temperatures.
Using cleaning chemicals
Benefits: Keeping your kitchen clean is paramount in preventing the build-up of dangerous bacteria such as E-coli and salmonella which can lead to illness and serious cases of food poisoning.
Environmental Cost: Many cleaning products contain an array of chemicals, several of which have never been tested for human or environmental safety. The Environmental Protection Agency states that certain chemicals, including Triclosan, found in many detergents and soaps, can contaminate waterways and cause the growth of algae blooms, some of which are toxic to humans. The New Zealand Department of Health warn that Triclosan, combined with water and sunlight, can form compounds that have been shown to contribute to skin cancer and liver abnormalities.
Green Solution: Use old fashioned methods to clean your house. Try using vinegar to cut through grease (www.vinegarbook.co.uk) , bicarbonate of soda and water to clean textiles, and tea tree oil diluted with water for a multi-surface antibacterial. Also, wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot soapy water to prevent the spread of bacteria. For more environmentally friendly household cleaning tips visit the www.greenchoices.org/cleaning.