Today is Earth Day, a global movement where the general public takes part in raising awareness for environmental protection. Did you know? The Paris Agreement of 2016 was signed on Earth Day itself, so we’re also celebrating the anniversary of the landmark agreement uniting most nations in tackling climate change!
Earth Day has a special meaning to us here at The Vegetable Co. as it encompasses the more significant theme of environmental protection that we strive for. So, for this Earth Day, we would like to kick off our blog with a couple of quick tips each of us can do at home to reduce waste and relieve some burden on the planet. Landfill waste remains one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission globally. In the United States, it accounts for 14.1% of total human-related methane emissions in 2017.
In Malaysia, municipal landfill waste is amongst the highest co2 emitters in the country, behind energy and mobility. Therefore, to mitigate our individual carbon footprints, each of us can try to reduce the amount of waste we produce. And since the Movement Control Order is in place and everyone is staying at home, it is an excellent time to build good habits. Reducing our domestic waste is one right way to start.
So here are 5 things we can do to reduce waste every day in the year. #EarthDay2020
1. Meal Planning
Prepping meals contributes a lot to waste mitigation. By knowing what we intend to cook for the week, we can buy the exact ingredients necessary when doing our groceries. Remember the times when specific perishables had to be tossed out when they stayed in your kitchen for too long and had gone bad? Meal prepping reduces this as we know what we’re going to cook throughout the week. Furthermore, it incentivizes us to look forward to cooking as we explore different recipes!
So, do take a day out of the week, sit down, and draw up your meal plan.
2. Encourage reusable containers.
Reuse, reuse, and reuse! Reusing is a core pillar of the 3 R’s we’re accustomed to, and it remains so for good reasons. By reusing durable materials, we reduce unnecessary, frivolous purchases. Disposable plastic bags and food cartons are one of the biggest sources of pollution in Malaysia, and we can all do our bit to reduce this waste.
So, what should we do?
We can support companies that encourage using our own containers, such as La Juiceria, with their RM1 discount. We should also support companies that integrate reusing containers as a common practice. For example, in Japan, the milkmen deliver fresh milk to individual households daily, in glass bottles. Glass bottled milk is very fresh and yummy, and once you’re done, the old glass bottles are placed outside the house for the milkman to collect.
The Vegetable Co. was inspired by such practices, and we try to integrate reusable vegetable boxes to encourage this virtuous cycle. The boxes used are of high quality, allowing for multiple reuses and reducing our environmental impact.
3. Repurpose food waste.
Used materials are treasure troves if seen from an alternate perspective! Coffee waste, for example, is a gold mine for reusability. It can be used on our skin and scalp exfoliation, while also reducing the appearance of cellulitis! On objects, it can be used as a natural cleaning scrub or even an odor neutralizer. Talk about usefulness!
Old bananas are also good. Remember how we tend to throw away bruised up bananas? Well, that bruises their feelings too! Mature bananas are great for banana bread, smoothies, puddings, cookies, and more. The next time you’re thinking of tossing those bananas, why not turn on the oven or use a blender instead?
If we honestly look, life is nothing more than an energy cycle, and organic waste largely remains a part of it. Organic matter is broken down into individual blocks. Under traditional circumstances, the feedback to the land that gave life to them. In our hustle and bustle urban lifestyle, we often forget this. Instead, organic matters end up in landfills, causing unfettered methane pollution as they decompose.
We can change that through composting. Composting is super easy; you generally just need two things: green and brown matter. The green matter is our food waste (which gives out nitrogen), and the brown matter are things like wood chips, newspapers, and leaves (which gives out carbon). We just get a bin, layer them simultaneously: brown, green, brown, green. Give it some time, and it becomes nutritious compost for any plants we may have.
Try to stick with fruit and vegetable waste if possible. Animal wastes will generally generate an odor. Alternately, try out the Bokashi composting system, which costs money but is usually even simpler to use.
Earth day is generally symbolized by the turning off of lights for an hour on the 22nd of April, where the world goes dark in solidarity. It is a powerful gesture, sending a clear message – we don’t need to continually keep the power on. Electricity is the primary source of energy for humankind. Until we can completely replace it with renewable sources, we will be emitting high levels of co2 just to function as a species.
Take the time to consider what we really need to use in terms of our household electricity, and turn off appliances that we’re not actively using. By turning off an unused light switch, or aggregating our laundry before using the washing machine, we are reducing our load on the world’s resources.
We practice that here at The Vegetable Co. too. Although we are an electricity-intensive agriculture operation, we take steps towards reducing our power consumption through constant innovation. For example, we have reduced our electricity cost by about 50% recently through some innovations in our HVAC system.
So that’s all for today. We hope these tips inspire you towards pursuing a greener future. Have a happy Earth Day!