The vegetarian lifestyle is better for the environment than eating meat. There’s no question about that… we’ve been saying that for years now. But just because we’re already following a plant-based diet, doesn’t mean we can’t do more for the Planet.
There used to be a time back in the 80s when the moniker was Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But now, we can incorporate more Rs into the mix – like Re-purpose, Restore, Repair, Replant and even Refuse. Like Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, who believes you should feel free to refuse to buy something you don’t actually need in the means to simplify your life.
Not all of you are vegetarians… but some of us are. And even though we stress the impact a vegetarian lifestyle has on the environment, I want to share some ideas anyone can easily implement within their lifestyle to give the environment an added boost in the right direction. We can be agents of change and example to others on how to live a more conscious and sustainable life without sacrificing any comforts.
REDUCE the amount of energy you use. Some easy things we can do is turn off the lights in the rooms we’re not in, unplug the electronics we hardly use and even turn off the breakers you are not using at home. For example, I have 220 electric plugs all over my house, but I only use one of them for my air conditioner, which I rarely use either. When I turned off all those live 220 breakers, my electric bill came in at $25 less each month from then on. That’s a savings of $300/year just for turning something off I wasn’t even using!!!!
REDUCE the amount of water you use. Don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth, shave or when you do the dishes in the sink. And if you’re lucky to have a dishwasher, run it only when it’s full. Repair leaky faucets and toilets. Sweep away your driveway and sidewalks instead of cleaning them with a hose. Take a shorter shower and install faucet aerators to cut down on water usage without any loss in pressure.
REDUCE your carbon footprint by supporting local organic farmers. One way to support your local economy and help the planet as a whole is to support your local farmers, particularly local ORGANIC farmers. If you know of a CSA farm near you, join. Or even when you visit your regular supermarket, choose products grown locally. They’ll usually be fresher, in season, their flavors stronger and you’ll be in tune with nature’s rhythm. For example, lately I am buying arugula lettuces, mushrooms and sprouts grown locally in Puerto Rico. Same goes with papayas, mangoes and pineapples. Of course, I still buy strawberries and blackberries not grown in PR, but I try to make a point to show my demand for good products grown here.
REFUSE plastic bags and REUSE your eco-bags when you go grocery shopping. Still grocery store people in PR look at you kinda weird when you bring in reusable bags to store your shopping, but it’s getting better each day. I just now carry a bag filled with eco-bags in the trunk of my car and I use them every time I go to the grocery, specialty food or the health food store. I still need to work on bringing one when I go to the mall…
REHOME clothes and things you no longer use or need. Instead of throwing old stuff out, donate your older clothes to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or even give it to a friend who might find it useful. I have a friend who used to give me all the clothes when she grew tired of them or no longer fit because we were almost the same size, and she had great taste when shopping. I give most of the clothes I no longer wear to a family friend who takes them all to the Dominican Republic. The idea is that what you might find no use for any more, might have extra few years in someone else’s hands.
REPLANT trees and grow your own garden, if you can. I have always lived in apartments, and the only reason why I would live in a house is to have trees. I once had a ficus tree in a huge pot in one of my balconies. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and refresh the environment. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, plant some local fruit trees or set of a vegetable garden and enjoy its bounties – papaya, breadfruit, mangoes, star fruit, avocados… these latter ones take about 7 years to bear fruit, but time flies. And even in an apartment building you can grow your own herbs and even your own vegetables in pots. I even looked into those contraptions where you can grow tomatoes hanging from the ceiling. My next project, a lemon tree in a pot!!!
RECYCLE your electronics. We’re running out of space to put garbage. Landfills are now huuuuge mountains that have become part of our cities’ landscapes. Do not pollute and contribute to the waste fields with electronics. Instead, take them to places like Best Buy or the Microsoft Store for recycling.
RECYCLE your white paper, plastics, cardboard and glass. This might sound so elementary, but people in Puerto Rico still do not have a recycling consciousness. You see it in businesses where they pile all the garbage together and do not divide between recyclables and organic waste. People throw their regular garbage in a recycling bin because they do not see the difference – to them is just a receptacle for me to get rid of whatever I have in my hand. Maybe I should be grateful that at least the trash goes somewhere and not on the streets. But if you are part of the group that do not actively recycle, PLEASE DO. It’s not that difficult and most cities already pick up recyclable goods once a week. Whenever I am eating out, I bring with me anything that’s recyclable to make sure it actually gets recycled.
Bring protecting the planet to the next level… whether you’re 100% vegetarian, vegan, plant-based or not. These are ideas you can implement within your current lifestyle and help even more to preserve our natural resources.
Would you share some other eco-friendly ideas you have easily implemented?? We would love to hear from you…