By Catharine L. KaufmanEarth Day is celebrated globally on April 22 as folks pay homage to the planet’s bounty with a rekindling of community awareness and commitment to a cleaner, greener, safer place in the universe we call home. So rally your sustainable sensibilities while kicking up your heels and shrinking your carbon footprints.
• Establish roots in your communityBecome an intrepid landscaper by cultivating “green” gardening techniques — enliven your outdoor space by conserving water and using native plants and pesticide-free edibles. Plant a Mediterranean herb garden with basil, thyme, rosemary and Italian parsley, along with fruit trees and veggie gardens suitable for California climes (heirloom tomatoes, avocados, apricots, zucchini, plums, low-chill apples and figs). For apartment or condo dwellers, plant a windowsill garden and dwarf Meyer lemons that thrive indoors.
• Be a bag ladyEnvironmentally friendly eco-totes are flying off shelves faster than you can say
“paper or plastic?” In this country, 88 billion plastic bags made of non-renewable petroleum are consumed yearly. Some of these troublemakers suffocate birds, choke sea critters and take 100 years to decompose. While paper bags produce heaps of solid waste, and require more energy to recycle than plastic.
Invest in a handful of recyclable cotton totes (some insulated and waterproof) that also keep perishables from perishing. Another incentive is the bag credit awarded at natural food supermarkets, and the bag by-law in Solana Beach, now charging customers for paper shopping bags. My eco-tote of choice is the Tote Buddy (thetotebuddy.com) that helps organize a pile of reusable bags in a decorative folder.
• Set a sustainable tableReusable flatware, glassware and dishes trump paper plates and plastic cups and cutlery by a long shot. Snagging second place are biodegradable or unbleached, recycled plates and cups and bamboo utensils. Do as the French do and use cloth serviettes instead of paper napkins.
If beverages are served from cans and bottles — recycle. Where possible, buy in bulk to cut down on package wastes. For leftovers, pack in glass storage containers that are also freezer-friendly.
• Be a SoCal local
Buy seasonal and local (if possible, organic as well), it’s healthier for you, (your wallet), and the community. These not only have fewer chemicals (pesticides and synthetic fertilizers), but a smaller carbon footprint since they are not road- or jet-lagged, travelling fewer miles to market, wasting less energy. Check out farmers markets and seasonal produce charts for best bets:
• Where’s the beef?Recent studies have shown that cow flatulence and sheep belches emit millions of metric tons of methane gas into the air every year (one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions) — even more than cars. Substitute an organic quinoa burger or grilled Portobello for a beef burger on a bun. If you must do meat, make it grass-fed and organic.
• Green grillingThis time gas beats out. Using natural gas and propane grills is more energy efficient, cleaner, and produces less waste (including greenhouse gases) than using the charcoal counterparts. If you’re a die-hard charcoal grill-meister, consider swapping out traditional charcoal for more eco-forgiving types. Lump or hardwood charcoal produces less ash by-products when burned, while ceramic briquettes and lava rocks don’t burn at all, rather absorb and radiate heat for even distribution.
RECIPE:Chilled Green Bean Soup
My Earth Day contribution is this eco-friendly recipe that will cool you down during the steamy globally-warmed summer nights ahead. Use organics when possible. Serves 4.
Ingredients:• 1 pound fresh green beans (trimmed, quartered)
• 1 sweet onion, diced
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 8 cups filtered, boiling water
• 2 eggs
• 6 tablespoons plain Greek yoghurt
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon dried parsley
• 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Method:In a stock pot, sauté onions in oil on low until translucent, then add the water, green beans and lemon zest. Cook until the beans are al dente. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
In a blender, mix eggs, yoghurt, lemon juice, herbs, spices, sugar, salt and pepper, and whip until frothy. Slowly stir this blended mixture into the soup. (This is a delicate operation since the eggs must cook but not curdle.) Cool at room temperature, then chill.
Serve in environmentally-friendly bowls like tempered glass. Garnish with lemon slices and sprinkle with paprika.
For additional recipes,