Saturday, June 27, 2009

Going green...

Lately in an effort to be more ecologically/environmentally friendly (or "eco" as they call it in Japan), I've been making minor changes to my shopping habits.

When purchasing produce, for example, I've been trying to purchase local Towada stuff as my first choice (even if it's slightly more expensive) and domestic as my second choice. The only thing I haven't been able to give up is bananas (from the Philippines).

I'm also trying to avoid purchasing beverages in PET (plastic) bottles; instead, I'm going for stuff in Tetra Paks. Recently, it's been mostly ice tea--lemon, peach, and/or mango. Of course, the best thing I could do is to stick with water, but I'll have to wean myself off gradually.

Another thing I'm attempting to wean myself off of is pre-prepared/packaged foods. Instead of buying the super market bentos, I'm trying to "cook" more meals for myself. Of course, since I'm a poor cook at best and lazy to boot, this has resulted in my having more uncooked dinners.

Inspired by Joeie and Hotaru no Hikaru (v5 ch27), I've discovered that cucumber, broccoli, and tomatoes make for a fairly substantial dinner. Sometimes I add a plum, some strawberries or cherries for dessert as well. For protein, if I have time during the week, I might hard boil a bunch of eggs and have one with the raw veggies. For dairy, I've been eating a lot of Danone Bio (Activia in Canada, I think) aloe yogurt. Unfortunately it only comes in the individual (80g cup) size, and not the large containers, so it's a bit more packaging than I like...

I figure I get more than enough carbs from school lunch (obviously only on weekdays) and breakfast (how would I survive without my Multi-Grain Cheerios?!), so I don't really bother with any for dinner.

Another diet change--although it's not really an "eco" thing-- is that I'm making an effort to cut down on my snack--chocolate, cookies, chips, etc.--intake as well. At first I wanted to go with roasted almonds as a healthy snack to satisfy any savoury food cravings, but then I realized that they (the almonds) are all from America. So now I'm trying to find a domestic healthy savoury snack. (Found dried eggplant...chips(?) in the Towada Jusco today, but as much as I love eggplant, I wasn't brave enough to test them out...) I think for sweets, I can probably be satisfied with fruits. I also discovered locally made banana chocolate chip muffins I can treat myself with once in a while. ^_^

Of course, I'm still going to be eating less than healthy stuff--my monthly cone from Baskin Robbins, for one--but I'm trying to be a bit healthier/more balanced in my eating. Part of what sparked the change is that I was looking at the reports from my past two annual physicals (all city employees have to have them) and I realized that although most of the not so great things--weight, blood pressure, etc.--had gone down in the second one, my cholesterol level had actually gone up. My dad's heart surgery made me realize that I really need to be more careful about cholesterol.

I know I should also be exercising , but I haven't been able to overcome my laziness for that yet. ^^;;

Anyway, another reason for my recent attempts at diet change is that I've been reading a lot of online magazines like Green Living (Canadian), Ode (Dutch) and Good (American) that make me want to do more to make the world a better place. I'd like to think that the changes to my purchasing/eating habits are making a positive impact, no matter how small the effect may actually be.

Along the same lines, I've recently been participating in some campaigns:
- Better the World: Make money for a select charity just by surfing the web!
- One Million Acts of Green: A project that originated from CBC's The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos and has now gone global! Sign up to perform "an act of green" to see how much a small action can reduce your annual carbon footprint.
- Free Rice: Each correct answer to a multiple choice English vocabulary question earns a donation of 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program to help end hunger.

And through Better the World I've discovered an awesome online bookstore: Better World Books. Each purchase you make contributes to global literacy, and you can also help save the environment by purchasing used books and/or carbon offsets for shipping from the site as well. The prices are quite competitive, and shipping is only $3.97 worldwide.

Unfortunately, I can't say that the international shipping is particularly fast: my order was supposedly shipped on June 2nd, but I still haven't received it! (In the meantime, something I ordered from RightStuf--also based in the US--was shipped on June 9th and arrived this past Tuesday, June 23rd.) But so long as I *do* get my books (I'm rather worried that they've been "lost in transit") I'd say it's worth the wait to be making a contribution to literacy and also saving money simply by doing something I'd be doing anyway (i.e. buying books).

I can't imagine making a wholesale life(style) change like Brenda, for example, but I want to try to live more conscientiously, doing the small things I can to make a difference--like using a powerbar and unplugging electronics/appliances when they're not in use; or setting my A/C temp higher in the summer and my heater temp lower in the winter.