Best Green Cooking Practices

The eco-friendly kitchen begins with eating green but doesn’t end there. Energy-efficient food preparation and cleaning habits, using equipment made from sustainable materials, and dodging toxic chemicals are also important if you want to have a truly healthy kitchen. Fortunately, making the right choices for your wellbeing is also good for the pocket and the planet.

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Using energy-efficient appliances with the Energy Star rating can help reduce the amount of electricity used to cook. Energy-efficient refrigerators can reduce energy consumption and a water-efficient dishwasher can also help to conserve water. Making as best use of the oven as possible, such as cooking more than one thing at once, is also wise. For small dishes, using a toaster oven or reheating in a microwave will also save energy. In fact, Energy Star estimates that you can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80 percent when using the microwave instead of the oven. Many newer ovens come to temperature so rapidly that they make preheating almost obsolete.

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By Efrain Esparza, GMC Writer

Sweden Imports Trash, Heats Nation

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The U.S. produces over 220 million tons of waste each year—55 percent of which ends up in landfills, 33 percent gets recycled and 12.5 percent is incinerated. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 65 percent of the waste generated by the U.S. in 2006 came from residences and 35 percent came from commercial and institutional sites. How can the U.S. implement an effective waste management system?

Sweden has an innovative waste management system in which the energy created by burnable waste is used to provide heat and electricity for the entire country. The heat produced by waste plants has become a substitute for fossil fuel.

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By Silvia Gutierrez, GMC Editor

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

Assembly Bill (AB) 1826 requires businesses that generate a specified amount of organic waste per week to arrange for recycling services for that waste. AB 1826 also calls on jurisdictions to implement a recycling program to divert organic waste from businesses subject to the law, as well as report to CalRecycle on their progress in implementing an organic waste-recycling program. Organic waste under AB 1826 includes the following material: food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. Food waste includes Fats, Oils, and Grease as well as meat.

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AB 1826 is scheduled to roll out in phases, first targeting the largest producers of organic waste. AB 1826 has already affected larger businesses such as grocery stores that produce over eight cubic yards per week of organic waste since April 1, 2016 and will affect smaller business like restaurants that produce over four yards of organic waste on January 1, 2017. Once all the largest producers of organic waste have been targeted, AB 1826 will further increase organic waste diversion by targeting all businesses that produce over four cubic yards of commercial waste per week.

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By Efrain Esparza, GMC Writer

Developing Green Habits One Step at a Time

Neuroscience research by Soon et al. (2008) has demonstrated that the brain is subconsciously aware of our decisions before we have consciously made those very decisions. In other words, we’ve already come up with a decision or an answer, before we realize we have.

If most of the choices we make are developed subconsciously, then how can we break some of our unsustainable habits and develop new greener ones?

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Phillippa Lally and her research team found that the amount of time to establish a new habit could vary from two to eight months. The more difficult or complex the new habit, the more time it will take for us to do it automatically. This information can be used to first establish green habits that are easier to accomplish, like remembering to recycle or turning off a light, over other green habits that may cause initial discomfort such as taking colder and shorter showers.

Lally’s research also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” This means that building greener habits is not an all-or-nothing process. An individual does not have to be perfect since making a mistake once or twice has no measurable impact on long-term habits. Starting with one small step and setting long-term goals may lead to cementing greener habits and helping the planet.

By Efrain Esparza, GMC Writer

The Type of Desert You Don’t Want

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In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared June 17th a global observance of desertification, shedding light onto the persistent dehydration of dry land ecosystems.

Desertification is the process in which fertile land becomes desert due to prolonged drought, deforestation or inappropriate agriculture. Desertification actively threatens the most vulnerable populations. In Africa, desertification is prevalent, causing an unsustainable use of local, scarce resources.

Mismanaged land can lead to a myriad of unfortunate outcomes. Improperly managing land can cause the soil to become infertile, decreasing the opportunity to grow food, which leads to food scarcity.

The UN suggests ways to prevent desertification. Reforestation, tree regeneration, and water management are among the best ways to prevent further land degradation. The UN also recommends soil enrichment by hyper-fertilizing soil through planting.

Communities are encouraged to come together to combat desertification. To learn more, visit the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) website.

By Kimberly Dallmann, GMC Writer

Wringing Out Water Waste: A New Way To Care For Your Jeans

Have you ever wondered how much water you use to wash your jeans? If you are a person that wears a pair of jeans once before washing them, you’re using a lot of water—more than you probably think. Over the life span of a pair of jeans, 3,781 liters of water are used from beginning to end. The measured life span includes: growing cotton, manufacturing, consumer care and disposal.

Levi Strauss & Company (LS&Co.) is dedicated to sustainability. In 2007, the company conducted a study to assess the environmental impact of a pair of jeans over the span of their lifetime. The Lifecycle Assessment Study (LCA) found that the two biggest energy and water impact areas were cultivation of cotton and consumer use. Based on further findings from the study, LS&Co. was able to change the way they produce jeans in order to decrease the environmental impact. LS&Co. established a water recycle and reuse standard of production, along with participating in water stewardship programs.

LS&Co. also created a quiz as part of a hashtag campaign, the #WashLess pledge, which allows anyone to find out his or her environmental impact based on how they use and take care of their jeans. The quiz covers topics such as region where one lives, how long one keeps a pair of jeans and how many times one wears a pair of jeans before washing.

According to LS&Co., if American consumers washed their jeans after 10 wears, water usage and climate change impact could be reduced by 77 percent. To find out your environmental impact through your jeans, take the quiz here.

By Kimberly Dallmann, GMC Writer

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You’re Hot Then You’re Cold: A Perfect Utensil for Any Meal or Drink

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With Earth Day right around the corner, Green Media Creations celebrates the countless recycling and sustainability efforts that are being made all around the world. For instance, the possibility for the extreme decrease in plastic cutlery and plastic truly is amazing.

Although revolutionary alternative-to-plastic products reflect how far we’ve come in this field, the statistics are still overwhelming. In the U.S. alone, 40 billion plastic utensils per year are thrown away after just one use. Narayana Peesapaty, founder of Bakeys and creator of edible spoons, compares 40 billion plastic utensils to India’s 120 billion plastic utensils thrown out per year.

Bakeys, which operates on fair trade principals, manufactures Peesapaty’s brilliant product in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. These edible spoons come in plain, savory and sweet flavors. They are made from rice, millet and wheat. With a shelf life of three years, these edible spoons are a truly creative alternative to plastic cutlery. If not consumed with a meal, they simply decompose within four to five days.

Peesapaty began this project with Kickstarter, which has received funding of well over his $20,000 goal. With over $150,000 in funds to work with, thus far, this project has quickly become a game changer. Peesapaty plans to use this money to expand this venture and create forks and chopsticks. He also hopes to start an international distribution system, which would ultimately reduce product and production costs.

With the current recipe, Bakeys’ edible spoons are already vegan and do not contain preservatives or trans fat. In the future, Bakeys hopes to achieve the following certifications: vegan, gluten-free, no high-fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, no trans fat, dairy-free, fair trade, organic, non-GMO and kosher.

Plastic takes hundreds of years to fully biodegrade, which leaves us with a pressing question: why has it taken us so long to find an alternative to plastics? Nonetheless, Bakeys edible spoons are a cutlery revolution and truly exemplify a step forward in sustainability efforts.

By Kimberly Dallmann, GMC Writer