Every Day is Earth Day (or should be)

Every year on April 22nd, the United States, along with more than 190 other countries, celebrates Earth Day. Most of have heard of this day, but do we really know what it means? Earth Day’s origins go back to an UNESCO conference in San Francisco where it was suggested that we should honor the earth and the concept of peace in tandem with the first day of Spring. The first Earth Day was held on March 21st, 1970. Just one month later, on April 22nd, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, founded the first government-recognized Earth Day, that was intended to focus on environmental education in schools. It stuck.

 

When I think of Earth Day, Climate Change and Global Warming usually come to mind. These are two complex and nuanced concepts that can be overwhelming. I constantly find myself questioning my actions, in an effort to minimize my personal impact. Do you find yourself doing that too? I have some good news, though. If you, like me, follow your heart by living a plant-based diet, free from animal products, then you have already a huge step towards fighting climate change! As it turns out, livestock (animals raised for food) are some of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, like methane. Good work!

 

If you, like me, are still striving to do more, but don’t know where to start, find an Earth Day rally or event to attend. In similar style to the Women’s March on Washington, the Earth Day Network will be holding a March for Science. Or, if you happen to live in LA, come check out my zero waste booth at the Glassell Park Neighborhood Association’s Earth Day event (details coming soon).

 

Attending events can be a great source of motivation, but true change comes when you take action. Start small by walking short distances that you would normally drive. Cook more meals at home, which helps you stay more connected to where your food comes from and what is actually in it. Small steps, have big impacts, but they must be continual and consistent. And always remember, Earth Day is every day.

– Jonathan Levy, AKA Zero Waste Guy

Plant-Based Foods Association

Follow Your Heart is proud to announce that we are founding members of the new Plant Based Food Association (PBFA). We will be working on regulatory outreach as well as consumer and retailer education regarding the benefits of plant-based foods on our health and the environment. It is an opt-in non-profit association that will lobby and educate for equal footing regarding the plant-based food industry and support companies that provide alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs. There are five founding member brands: Follow Your Heart, Daiya, Tofurky, Upton’s, and Miyoko’s Kitchen.

Here is some information from the association’s website:

Mission:

To ensure a fair and competitive marketplace for businesses selling plant-based foods intended to replace animal products such as meats, dairy, and eggs, by promoting policies and practices that improve conditions in the plant-based foods industry, and educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based foods.

We aim to:

  • Engage in education, public relations, and media outreach to increase visibility for plant-based foods and boost consumer acceptance;
  • Eliminate policies and practices that place plant-based meats, milks, eggs, and butters at an economic disadvantage, such as labeling restrictions;
  • Change the debate on important public policy issues such as the dietary guidelines.
  • The Plant Based Foods Association will also use various legal strategies, often in collaboration with other organizations, to challenge policies and practices that undercut its members in the marketplace. The goal is to level the playing field for plant-based foods to compete fairly.

 

We’re excited to join forces with such an elite collection of brands and look forward to sharing with all of you the progress we make toward a healthier tomorrow.

A Zero Waste Take on Spring Cleaning

With Spring right around the corner, I can’t help but start to think about Spring Cleaning. There are a handful of potential origins of this centuries­old tradition, including Persian New Year and the Jewish high holiday of Passover. Whether or not an exact source can be pinpointed,one thing they all have in common is this sense of purging all that you no longer need in anticipation of the start of something new.

When I think of Spring Cleaning, the first thing that comes to mind is the end of Winter; this idea that after being cooped up inside for the past few months, I can finally turn off the heater, open a few windows, and let in some fresh air. As I leave my blinds drawn, I see flowers starting to bloom and leaves growing on trees. The sound of birds chirping and the smell of fresh air is refreshing and a welcomed change.

While cleaning out my closet and drawers, I think about the things I currently own, taking a deep look into what I want, compared to what I actually need. My goal is to avoid creating unnecessary waste, so any item I no longer need is given to a friend, donated to charity, or sold. I want to be mindful that some items are nice to have around, just in case, whereas others spend years collecting dust.

It can be easy to look at Spring Cleaning as a means to an end, where tossing out old items is justification for buying newer models. As an advocate for living a zero waste lifestyle, I have found that there is far more satisfaction in wearing something out, than feeling pressure to buy something new. If you can believe it, there are actually groups on social media you can join that advocate for seeing how long you can go without buying anything (except of course, food). I personally do my best to buy only what I need, reusing and repairing items for as long as possible.

But I do recognize that there is a balance, and sometimes we do need to make way for something new. That being said, as you begin to prepare for the start of Spring, I would like to challenge you to introduce a zero waste way of thinking, as made popular during the Great Depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

– Jonathan Levy, AKA Zero Waste Guy