As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day this week, many of you are likely planning to attend a special Earth Day event or join in an Earth Day activity.
But as the month of April marches on, you may also be asking, “Is there something more I can do?” The answer, of course, is yes. With just a few small changes to how you shop, eat and garden, you can help create a healthier planet, a healthier local economy, a healthier family, and a healthier bank account.
You may not realize it, but our environment is greatly impacted by the choices we make about the food we eat. It takes three billion acres of land on planet Earth just to grow the food we waste. Food rotting in landfills is also responsible for more than 20 percent of our domestic methane emissions. In fact, if wasted food were a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after the U.S. and China.
Now here’s the good news — because a large percentage of the wasted food in our country comes from households, it means that a few simple changes to the food that goes on your family’s table really can help save the planet. And the bonus is that these quick and easy tips will save your family money, too.
• Support your neighbors and get delicious locally grown food by shopping at your local farmers markets and farm stands. You’ll find a whole host of local farmers and agri-businesses along the scenic Thurston Bountiful Byway. Go to ThurstonBountifulByway.com to learn more and to download a map.
• Start a veggie plot and learn first-hand where your food comes from. Your family will agree that homegrown food really does taste sweeter. The gardening experts at WSU Thurston County Extension have lots of workshops and classes coming up this season that can help you grow a healthy garden no matter where you live. Go to ext100.wsu.edu/thurston for a full list of gardening classes and more.
• Just taking steps to waste less of your food can have the biggest impact on the environment and on your wallet. Did you know that the average American family of four throws out about $130 to $230 worth of food every month? The county’s Waste Less Food program has a ton of quick and easy tips on how to waste less food and keep more of your money at www.WasteLessFood.com. You can even request a free, small group presentation on how to waste less food by calling 360-867-2284.
We all need clean water, clean soil, and clean air for the food we eat. Turns out we can do a lot to protect these natural resources simply by keeping more of your food on your plate and putting less of it in the garbage.
I hope you’ll join me this season in putting more locally-grown food on your family’s table and saving the planet one meal at a time. Bon appétit.
Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero represents District 2, which includes Lacey, Yelm, Rainier, and other communities in eastern Thurston County.