Tag Archives: sustainable

Tip #5: Buy Local Eggs

Being a sustainable shopper is a hard task, especially as a college student. $100, or even $150, a month doesn’t go as far as you might think, and buying that $3 head of organic broccoli seems like such a waste when there is a $1.50 head right next to it, and they look exactly the same! Plus, sometimes an organic head of broccoli can have just as much of a negative impact on the earth as non-organic, depending on how far it’s traveled and where it’s being grown.

That’s why my fifth Baby Step to Sustainability is buying local eggs.

I eat at least 3 eggs a day, mostly because a hardboiled egg is the only healthy food I know of that leaves me with no dishes to wash. Eggs are filled with nutrients and protein, are low carb, incredibly versatile and insanely cheap. A dozen can cost less than $2 (or, less than 17 cents an egg), and last almost a week.

This is why I suggest that there is no reason that anyone able to spend at least $100 a month on groceries can not shell out an extra $2 (or, an extra 14 cents an egg) on a dozen eggs. Even the most expensive of dozen boxes won’t even amount to 50 cents per egg. Often, if you eat 3 eggs in a morning, you will spend less than $1 for breakfast! That is less than a coffee, and has way more nutrients.

Now on to why it’s sustainable. I’m going to stick to a single point to keep it concise, though there are many reasons that local eggs are better for the environment.

As you may know, Sustain Mizzou -and many other organizations- generally defines sustainability as using resources today in a way that does not sacrifice the resources and comforts of our children and Earth in the future.

Reduction of the use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels is generally one of the most sustainable things we can do in this day, in our first world country. (If you’ve forgotten why, our own MacKenzie Reagan explained this in What the Frack is Fracking) last year. Thus buying food which requires minimal transportation is very sustainable- and often a lot cheaper! – than buying food from states and states away.

Luckily, here in the state of Missouri, we have a plethora of farmers who raise chickens. Even the Columbia Center For Urban Agriculture, which is only about a mile north of the University campus, has chickens which produce eggs! Also, at every store in Columbia, there are a variety of local eggs, most notably from the Stanton Brothers who are located in Centralia.

Stanton Bros. Eggs

Yes, those young boys really are the Stanton Brothers. And they really do run a farm of ~12,000 free range chickens. That amazing fact in itself is a post for another day.

I’ve found, (unsurprisingly) that Lucky’s Market is the best place to buy local eggs, with Gerbes coming in for a close second. Most days, Lucky’s has a variety of eight or more different brands of local eggs. These local eggs also often are free range, antibiotic and hormone free and grain fed, all things which you are free to look up on your own, but that we will also be covering in the future under Sustainability 101.

 

But, if only for the reason that it reduces fossil fuel emissions, please pick local eggs the next time you shop! Even if you buy eggs four times a month, and only do it once, it will be an improvement.

There are many other factors which play into the sustainability of local eggs, but we’ll post about that in the future when we talk more about factory farming and nutrient pollution.

For now, I appreciate all three of you making it to the end of this post (hi mom) and have a great True/False weekend!

-Katherine

Tip #4 : Reusable Mugs

It’s that time of year again, and it’s this type of intro again! The type that you’ll be reading for the next four months on every local newspaper article and blog post! Blah blah blah snow and mittens blah blah warm fire and Christmas presents blah.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to our sustainable tip for this week: reusable mugs.

Every year when fall comes around, we break out our snow boots and scarves while Starbucks breaks out the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s and pumpkin pound cake and increasingly more pumpkin flavored items.

Our favorite warm drinks from coffee shops tend to come in a “to-go” cup. This cup is usually made of paper with a cardboard “sleeve” to keep you from burning yourself on the piping hot coffee.

Even though paper is recyclable, and there are more recycling bins around every year, recycling is not always the best option. Not all things that are put in bins can be recycled, and resources such as oil and timber, are still being used in production. A reusable mug is a great way to reduce the amount of resources being used when you buy your morning coffee!

Mugs can range from a few dollars to twenty or thirty. I have two myself, here’s one of my favorites:

IMG_1555

This is an insulated mug which can keep your drink either hot or cold pretty much all day. YES, ALL DAY. This is one of the many benefits of having your own mug: it’s far more insulated, so it will keep your drinks the right temperature!

In addition to that, you can buy mugs – like mine – with screw on lids, so you don’t spill all your liquids every time you drop them, which happens a lot if you’re me.

I like mine metal like Klean Kanteen because of my clumsiness. I don’t have to worry about breaking it or spilling it almost ever. But, there are many very cool ceramic or plastic personal mugs that you can buy! Starbucks has an entire line of custom plastic mugs and local artists often make ceramic to-go coffee mugs, I have a beautiful one myself!

Not to mention, Mizzou’s own Craft Studio has offered classes on making your own mugs in the past, so you can completely customize your very own mug!

It’s never too late to buy and use a reusable coffee mug! Even if you forget sometimes, this is what it’s all about! Baby Steps to Sustainability.

Tip #3: Water saving shower heads

Yet another easy one! Also another water solution.

As stated in a previous tip, about 45% of water use occurs in the bathroom. An easy way to cut down on this use is to shorten your showers, like our mother was always telling us to do. Especially if you were me, living in Colorado in the middle of a decade long drought, as a teenage girl with a lot of hair to wash. (it’s not like washing mattered, I could have washed it with peanut butter and it would have looked better than the god-awful styles I was putting it in.)

But I digress.

Shortening showers is not always easy. Sometimes you just got back from working out, sometimes you need to shave, sometimes you it’s really cold and you’re really tired and the water is just so heavenly that it’s nearly impossible to get out, and sometimes you’re a teenage girl preparing to style her hair in yet another horrible way.

But most shower heads use about 2 gallons of water per minute of showering, and some older ones (once again, like the ancient houses we live in as college students) use up to 5 gallons of water a minute. An easy (and cheap in the long run) solution is the water saving shower head!

They can come as cheap as $5 or have a massaging spray, or even come with an apparatus to control the flow. They typically range between 10 and 15 dollars and can shave a few dollars off your water bill a month, eventually paying for itself.

They tend to be easy to install, only needing the removal of one screw.

So for tip #3, save some money and save some water with a water saving low-flow shower head!

Tip #2: Personal Water Bottles

Personal water bottles should be a no-brainer! Personal water bottles are not only durable and customizable, they are also eco-friendly (and cheaper!) , especially compared to their mean cousin, The Disposable Water Bottle.

bottled-water

Not pretty is it? Buying a bottle of water a day, or every other day, or even every two, still adds up to a serious amount of waste, literally and monetarily. You could be spending $120, $200, or even upwards of $300 a year on bottled water. Imagine all the things that could be done with that money instead: music festivals, plane tickets, clothing, football games; the possibilities are endless!

New water fountains around campus make filling up easier too.

best-bpa-free-water-bottles

Americans drink 50 billion bottles of water every year and it takes more than 25 million barrels of crude oil to create all that plastic.

 

Not only that, but disposable water bottle companies are simply repackaging municipal water (read: public city water) and selling it at 300 TIMES THE COST OF TAP WATER.

And companies like Fiji, which really do ship water from across the world, are simply exploiting a poor nation of it’s most important resource at almost three times the price of other bottled waters. Not only that, but shipping your water, across oceans, to get to you, is no sustainable way to live.

Buy a personal water bottle. It doesn’t make sense to do anything else!

 

Tip #1: Soft Flush Toilet

At some point in our lives, we have all heard the “if it’s yellow leave it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down,” phrase and subsequently wrinkled our nose in disgust. We know we should but, bottom line, not flushing is gross to many of us.

Also bottom line: toilet flushing wastes a serious amount of water.

45% of water use in the average American home happens in the bathroom, and 27% just by toilets. New toilets can only use 1.6 gallons per flush, but older toilets (think: old houses that college students live in…) can flush 3, 5, even up to 7 gallons of water per flush.

Now, in your head, set out 3-5 gallons of water on a table. That is likely used each time you flush. Not only is that wasteful in terms of water, but also in terms of money.

But alas, we have a super simple tip for you: the home-remedy for hard flushing toilets, and you don’t even need to leave your house. You save a ton of money (and the Earth!) by simply putting heavy jars in your toilet tank.

Step one: obtain a few old jars or tupperware.

Step two: fill old jars with rocks or sand or paper weights or coins.

Step three: place jars in toilet tank.

And viola! Now you can save half a gallon per flush.This doesn’t seem like much, until you multiply it by the amount of people in your household and how often each of you use the toilet a day. If you have 2 roommates, and each of you use the home toilet 3 times a day, that’s 810 gallons a month that you can cut down to 675. The New York Times says that you can save 350 gallons of water a month for a household of 5.

The reason this works is this: every time you flush, your toilet tank is emptied into the bowl, then the tank is refilled until the stopper closes  and the water becomes stagnant. If you put something with volume in the tank, the water fills up to the same height in the tank, the stopper closes at the same time, but there is less volume to fill up, and thus less water to flush with.

So there’ s your very first sustainable tip from Footprint!

It’s so easy, and you save money, so why wouldn’t you want to?

Is your life too plastic? “Bag It” film screening next week.

Missouri River Relief, Sustain Mizzou and the Missouri River Communities Network will host a free screening of the award winning film “Bag It” on Monday, April 23rd at 7 p.m. in Strickland 204 on the MU Campus.

Try going a day without plastic.  Plastic is everywhere and infiltrates our lives in unimaginable and frightening ways.  Most of what we eat and drink, and the products we purchase, are packaged and wrapped in petroleum plastic – a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that most people use once and throw away.

In this touching and often funny film, we follow “everyman” Jeb Berrier, who is admittedly not a tree hugger, as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world. What starts as a film about plastic bags evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic as it relates to our throw-away mentality, our culture of convenience, our over-consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging – things that we use one time and then, without another thought, throw away.

But where is away? Away is overflowing landfills, clogged rivers, islands of trash in our oceans and even our very own toxic bodies. We see how our “crazy-for-plastic” world has finally caught up to us and what we can do about it.

The average American uses about 500 plastic bags each year, for about 12 minutes each. This single-use mentality for plastics has contributed to the formation of a floating island of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean. The North Pacific Gyre is an area roughly twice the size of Texas, some say as big as the United States.

Featuring interviews with scientists and experts from around the world, Bag It is a first-person documentary in the style of Michael Moore, asking how we can incorporate healthy, more environmentally friendly practices into our lives, our cultures, and our communities.

“I didn’t expect a movie about plastic bags to change my life in such a deep and profound way.  Gripping, funny, intelligent, and sure to change your life.”

–  Louie Psihoyos, Director of The Cove

This free and open to the public screening is brought to you by Missouri River Relief, Sustain Mizzou & Missouri River Communities Network.  Please join us on Monday, April 23 at 7 p.m. to learn more about how plastic affects our world and what we can do about it as we kick-off Sustainability Week.  If you don’t do anything else on Earth Day this April, come see this film and bring a friend.

Fore more information about plastic in our environment and its effects, check out Melanie Cheney’s blog, Plastic Soup News.

Exploring Why Used Cars Are a Better Buy for You and The Environment.

Over spring break my father and I took my 1994 BMW 325is to Rennsport, our favorite local mechanic in my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had Rennsport put on some new Bilstein shocks, and replace about half a dozen less significant parts on my car, which now has over 213,000 miles on it. Most people would have bought a new car long ago, the idea being that a new car would get significantly better mileage, that it would be better for the environment, and that the overall experience would be better. For the most part this idea is false.

When most people think of the impact that cars have on the environment they only look at the impact in the present tense, that is they only think of the emissions of the car. However, the greatest environmental impact related to a car is it’s production and disposal. Cars take a great deal of materials to be built and there are many byproducts of both the production of the vehicle and the materials it is made of. Think of Rolls Royce, for example (an EXTREME example), who uses 17 to 18 bull hides for the leather in a single vehicle. That’s 18 bulls that have been bred, fed, and processed. Cars also use a lot of complex synthetic materials whose components can be toxic when handled or disposed of improperly. Metals that make up our cars are also mined and go through many processes (many of which involve dangerous toxic substances) before ending up as a shiny new car on a dealership’s showroom floor.

Unfortunately many Americans have this idea in their head that a car is simply worthless after an arbitrary number of miles. Say 100,000 miles, for example. This is the main fallacy that needs to be confronted in terms of how we regard cars in our country. In Europe it is quite normal to meet someone who owns a Renault or Mercedes that has been driven half a million miles and is on its second engine or transmission and they never stop bragging about it. They simply love their car. It’s like an elderly couple telling you that they’ve been married for fifty years. The key is to find a car you love and stick with it.

You might argue that it’s cheaper to buy a new car, particularly because a new car is more economical with its fuel consumption (certainly not much more efficient than anything else made in the last 30 years) or that it’s too expense to maintain  used cars. While this is a lovely justification for purchasing a new car, it doesn’t hold much water. Say that you buy a new car that gets 30 miles per gallon over a used car that gets 20 miles per gallon, the payments (and the most likely higher insurance rates) on the new car will far exceed the savings of it being more fuel efficient than the used car. Furthermore, if you are the kind of person who just has to have a new car, you’ll probably move on to another car shortly after you finish paying off the new car.

Maintaining a used car is also significantly cheaper than buying a new car. Firstly because even new cars end up needing maintenance and even break down at times. My mother’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, which she purchased new, had a major transmission repair before it even reached 50,000 miles, not to mention the fact that the brakes have had to be replaced about every 20,000 miles. While those particular problems may be specific to that model, every car has its issues.

Since buying my BMW for a mere $2,000 my father and I have probably spent another $4,000 replacing a slew of important parts that should allow the car to make it another 100,000 miles or so. Owning this car has also been a much better experience than I would have gotten if I had bought a new car. My father and I have done a lot of the work on the car ourselves and it was a great opportunity to spend time together.

As for the work we’ve had Rennsport do, I’ve heard of very few people receiving the same level of service that we’ve gotten by taking their car to a dealership. Many dealers are becoming less oriented towards servicing cars and more oriented towards selling news ones. Mechanics, on the other hand, almost exclusively service cars and therefore must give you a high level of service if they want to stay in business. When we took my car to Rennsport for the work I mentioned earlier they did the work in less than a day. They also gave us a list of other things that they suggested we fix next and discussed what they thought we could do ourselves, what we should probably have them do, and when we should have those tasks completed. They even offered to sell us a discounted copy of the same repair manual they use when working on my car. I remember the first time we took my car there and discovered that four of the car’s five previous owners had taken it there, and one of them was even a mechanic at the shop. They even printed out service records, for me, of everything they had ever done to my car.

Service like this is great for sustaining your car, your local economy, and for giving you a good experience with your car. For me, personally, it goes a long way toward boosting my faith in the humanity of the car industry, particularly after some repeated horrible experiences with the two car dealerships where my parents got their current cars.

So the next time you are in the market for a new car, stop and think about it. Ask yourself some questions. Do you really need a new car? Can you get a used one instead? Is there a cute little convertible, a big SUV, or a sporty hatchback that you’ve always wanted? Do a little research on the major things that go wrong with that particular car and what they cost to fix. Who knows? Maybe buying that sports car you’ve always wanted used can make it affordable and you’ll enjoy it just as much.

If you absolutely must buy a new car, you need to buy it with the understanding that to own a new car should be a long term relationship. And while you should factor things like good fuel economy, utility, and practicality into your decision, the most important factor should be how much you love your car. If you love the car that you buy, then you will take good care of it and it will last longer and you will have less impact not the environment in your lifetime . You wouldn’t get married to someone who you didn’t really like or get a pet that you don’t want so why would you buy a car that doesn’t make you happy? If you are one of those people who must have a new car, you could consider leasing (if that’s financially viable for you) or ,at the very least, make sure that the person you sell your car to when you’re done with it is someone who will love it.

FRESH reveals bleak reality

Following the viewing of the documentary FRESH, a panel of local food gurus addressed questions from the audience pertaining to issues with the industrialized food system. From Left: Tim Gibbons of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, John Ikerd of the University of Missouri, Jake Davis of The Root Cellar.

Picture the fast-food hamburger you ate for lunch yesterday afternoon. Chances are that beef came from a major industrialized food producer, not a locally owned and operated farm. That label on the wrapper that reads “100% pure beef” does not say anything about the amount of antibiotics fed to the cattle. Nor does it boast any information about the conditions the animals were raised in, or the exploitation of the farmer whose livelihood depends on equitable treatment by industrial food businesses.

This lack of awareness and honesty is the current reality of our food system; something I learned on Monday night after viewing the documentary FRESH. The film, directed and produced by Ana Joanes, was shown at an event hosted by Sustain Mizzou as a part of National Food Day.

Before watching the documentary I did not really consider the sources of my food in great depth. Like many consumers I realized that something unnatural was occurring within the food system. I accepted that fresh, farm-raised poultry and beef taste significantly better than frozen, mass-produced foods, but I was not willing to go out of my way to procure them. I was not truly bothered enough by this reality to overhaul the way I eat, or to consider the other factors that come into play when producing meat in the industrialized food system.

FRESH opens with a scene of the type of farm I would like to envision my food coming from. Joel Salatin, a third-generation farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is the owner and operator of a farm called Polyface, Inc. A utopia settled in an area so rural that GPS and cell-phone coverage do not extend to their acreage. As Salatin takes viewers on a tour of his farm, explaining his methodologies and principles in an almost poetic manner, he details what he means when he says he is a “steward of the earth.” With the collaboration of other family members, and a commitment to sustainable farming, Salatin has implemented farming techniques that boast success on a large scale without the help of antibiotics, seeds, plows or synthetic fertilizers. Polyface, Inc. serves as a sustainable model for what can be the reality of the food system, if consumers would only take a participatory role in the local food movement and make greater demands of the industrialized food system.

In stark contrast to Salatin’s farming philosophy was the portrayal of industrialized food production. When juxtaposed with Polyface, Inc., the description of an industrialized chicken house is enough to put viewers off their lunch, quite literally. While watching the documentary, I was struck by the ­­images of pig houses that shelter hundreds of pigs at a time. Within these houses, animals are fed an unnatural diet chocked full of antibiotics to combat rampant disease outbreaks, and hormones to promote rapid growth at an unorthodox rate.

Another farmer profiled in FRESH, Russ Kremer of Osage County, Missouri told his compelling story on-screen. After making the transition to industrial pig farming techniques in the 1980s, including keeping hundreds of pigs inside concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)- essentially metal crates, Kremer sustained a life-threatening injury while handling one of his boars.

The boar speared Kremer in the kneecap with one of its tusks, resulting in a serious infection in Kremer’s leg. After countless indeterminate tests and ineffectual rounds of standard antibiotics, doctors concluded that Kremer was fighting a drug-resistant form of strep bacteria- the exact same bacteria he fought to ward off in his pig herd. The bacteria had mutated to become drug-resistant as a result of the massive amounts of antibiotics that he fed his pigs, and posed a serious risk to human health.

After his brush with drug-resistant bacteria, Kremer returned to his farm and exterminated his herd. He made a commitment to overhauling his farming practices, deciding not to use any industrial techniques, ruling out the use of antibiotics or confinement. According to Kremer, in his first year of traditional farming he saved $14,000 without drug expenses or veterinary bills. Kremer went on to found the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative and Heritage Acres label, a coalition of more than 50 family farmers raising pig herds sustainably; and notably, with monetary success.

Throughout the documentary, it became clear that the industrialized food system is currently in a dire situation, and needs the attention of the public to affect change. But there is hope.

Retired University of Missouri Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics John Ikerd was featured in the film, as well as during a panel discussion following the viewing on Monday night. Ikerd shared his unique opinions concerning the food system as it is now. As a man who lived during the year the first supermarket was introduced, Ikerd remembers a time when his family received all of the food from farms no more than 60 miles from his home.

Ikerd presented his conception of the big picture of the industrialized food system, and how to reconcile that with the local food movement. He called for a paradigm shift involving three steps. “People need to conclude that the current changes to the food system are not working- that it is not healthy and that there are still hungry people in this country. There also needs to be some concept of what changes will work; and finally, people need to believe that it is possible to make the transition to a healthier system,” Ikerd said.

For additional information about FRESH and the local food movement, check out the website below.

http://www.freshthemovie.com/

Product review: Southern Tier 422 Pale Wheat Ale

*Note: This entry does not reflect the opinion of Sustain Mizzou. An adult of legal age consumed this beer in an off-campus apartment.

By Eddie Kirsch



Price:
$7.99 per six pack
Where: Hy-Vee, 3100 West Broadway
Features: Package made of 80% recycled material, “All natural ingredients”
What the web says: “422 is brewed as a tribute to preserving our precious planet and it’s environment. It is responsibly packaged with over 80% recycled consumer products and is completely recyclable. Enjoy 422 all year as to take one stride closer to an eco-friendly life.”

I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but Missouri likes to drink. In 2007 (most recent data), the per capita ethanol consumption for Missouri was 2.41 gallons. That year alone, Missouri spent $2.6 billion on booze.

This is why eco-friendly spirits are important. However, there aren’t too many brands supporting an environmentally conscience brew. Southern Tier is one of the few. Underneath the 422 pale wheat ale label, it says, “make every day earth day!” and decorating the product’s box are suggestions on how to live an eco-friendly life. Kudos to some of their suggestions, however, I don’t think I’ll be taking “group showers” any time soon.

So what makes this beer eco-friendly? It is packaged in 80% “recycled consumer products” (according to their website) and is “completely recyclable”. I, along with my roommate and a friend, decided to give the beer a shot. Here’s (probably) everything you’d want to know about it:

Color: Despite the brown ale appearance, the actual color of the beer is a light, golden yellow

Carbonation:
There was very little when pouring the beer into a glass, I would probably say about a finger’s worth of head.

Aroma: Again, the aroma was fairly faint. If anything, it was a little sweet, but you had to almost stick your nose in the liquid to smell much.

Taste: The wheat ale had a light body; not bitter, or not sour. It was really light in flavor as a whole, a little reminiscent of beers such as Rolling Rock. It finished with hardly any after taste.

As a whole it wasn’t bad, maybe like a 6.5/10. My friend remarked that he really enjoyed it. I thought it was okay, slightly better than the average beer.

My question is how much more eco-friendly is the product actually? Although I admit I don’t know what much about the ingredients of beer and their relative benefits or hazards to the environment, it doesn’t seem like they were any different than a typical beer.