Sunday, November 23, 2008

Five Ways to Make your Life Greener with Vegetables

Vegetarian lifestyle might sound like it only benefits the person who is eating it, but there's much more to it. The benefits for your body, like potentially preventing cancer by increasing the intake of antioxidants (found in many fruits), or increasing the body's immunity through consumption of natural vitamins, have been well documented. Besides the personal benefits, eating veggies as opposed to meat has a number of benefits for the environment.
Here are a few of those benefits...

  • Vegetables use less energy to transport. Vegetables are lighter in weight, don't require feeding (like livestock), and can be stacked much more efficiently for transport than animals.

  • Buying locally saves even more energy. Transporting vegetables from a local farm as opposed to a farm 2000 miles away will results in less energy consumed, and a fresher product from less transit time.

  • Growing your own vegetables, like buying local, will eliminate much of the transportation energy used. If it's in your backyard, your cutting out that transportation for you to go to the store, for the vegetable to get to you, and potentially pesticide use (and ingestion).

  • Livestock are responsible for 28% of global methane emissions, which greatly speeds up global warming. Vegetables don't create this massive amount of methane emissions that destroy the atmosphere. Opting for vegetables instead of meat can reduce the overall production of livestock.

  • Vegetables do not require excessive preperation before being sold. With livestock, there's the added process of slaughter, preparing the meat, cutting the meat at grocery store/butcher shops, using packaging to wrap the meat, and cooking the meat (which uses energy). Vegetables can be consumed raw in most cases with no cooking. In fact, the benefits of raw vegetables also have a positive impact on the body.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More on the Christmas Tree Debate

People everywhere have to make the decision on whether they'd like to commit to an artificial tree or use the cut version this holiday season, and plenty of people have some heavy opinions on the issue. Weigh in with your thought about real vs fake Christmas trees here, as well as read up on some of the reasons why you should consider buying a live tree as opposed to the cut version.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rethinking Christmas: Potted Trees?

There's fake trees, there's fake pre-lit trees, there's real trees, and now, there's potted trees. The Christmas tree is the epicenter of everything Christmas. The gifts are underneath, the decorations are chosen with care, and people even take plenty of time to choose just the right tree for them. With the rising popularity of potted christmas trees, which one is the best for you?

First, if you already have a fake Christmas tree, why get rid of it? It's next to impossible to recycle a Christmas tree, and most of them truly do last forever. With fake trees, you don't have to worry about the risk of fire, and the cost benefit of reusing a tree every year is very tempting. If you absolutely want a new tree, consider finding a local organization that will take the tree of your hands. Post an ad on Craigslist and Kijiji to have someone pick up the tree (or you could drop it off). Still, there are cons to owning a fake tree. Here are a few:

Cons of Fake Christmas Trees

  • Incredibly hard to clean. Dust accumulates on trees and is virtually impossible to clean.

  • There are large amounts of energy used to produce a plastic Christmas tree.

  • There's no way to recycle a Christmas tree, just to pass the tree down to someone else who may need or want it.

Pros of Fake Christmas Trees

  • Cost effective. Buy it once, you could possibly never have to buy another one.

  • Flame retardant. Fake Christmas trees are far more resistant to fire.

  • Easy to put back up every year.

Cons of Real Trees

  • You're cutting down a real tree.

  • Real trees often end up in landfills year after year.

  • Real Christmas trees are a larger risk to catch on fire.

  • While cheaper than fake trees, real trees over the long term will cost much more since you need one every year.

  • They need to be watered to prevent drying out and causing a fire.

Pros of Real Christmas Trees

  • The smell!

  • Christmas trees are replanted to replace the cut one that's in your home every year.

  • You don't have to worry about cleaning them since they'll be recycled (hopefully) after using them.

  • They look better.

  • Real Christmas trees don't use the huge amount of energy that fake ones use to be produced, even with transport considered.

Cons of Potted Christmas Trees

  • They're very big and heavy. You will most likely need a dolly and a couple of people to haul in a potted Christmas tree.

  • You need to take care of the roots and water your Christmas tree to ensure it will live after being in your home.

  • Potted Christmas trees shouldn't stay in the home for a long time...only 1-2 weeks.

  • Finding a home in your yard for your potted Christmas tree after use can be tedious.

  • They aren't easy to find in some areas.

Pros of Potted Christmas Trees

  • Potted Christmas trees can be planted in your yard or given to someone else and potted.

  • There's no curbside waste from potted Christmas trees.

  • You'll have a new tree in your card every year, providing shade and reducing your energy costs.

So which type of tree is the best for you? If you already have a fake tree, keep it. If you purchase cut trees every year, consider switching to potted ones, even if only every other year. If you must use cut Christmas trees, be sure to recycle them after use by visiting The National Christmas Tree Association to see where you can recycle your tree.

More Tips for Buying Potted Christmas Trees

  • You don't have to buy just pine trees, you can purchase palm trees or any household plant to use as a Christmas tree.

  • Use low watt or energy star approved Christmas lights to decrease energy use.