Happy Earth Day! While being kind to the planet should be practiced every day, sometimes we get busy and forget about the easy eco-friendly practices that we can incorporate into our daily routine. Here are 10 simple things you can do to help the planet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Try moving towards a plant-based diet most of the time (or better yet, all of the time!). Whether the motivation is health-related or compassion, the more plants we eat the better our Earth will be now and for future generations. Plants require much less resources to grow than meat and dairy. Eating more plants will benefit our children, helping them to live in a more sustainable, safe and healthy environment. If you have not seen Cowspiracy, it's a very impactful film documenting the effects of animal agriculture on the environment. A very poignant infographic from the film shows the results of agriculture on climate change, water use, deforestation, species extinction, waste, fisheries and land use.
Compost your food and biodegradable packaging. This is a great way to let food scraps and packaging decompose naturally. We just love this fun kids video on composting (good for adults too by the way?).
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. The National of Environmental Health Sciences lists some fun facts and great ideas for the entire family. Buy only what you need, support local growers, reuse old bottles and carry a cloth bag for purchases.
- Give away old clothes, toys, electronics and other barely-used items that you don’t use. One big cause of environmental and sea life destruction is something that we use daily-plastic bags. Did you know that instead of throwing away plastic bags you can donate them? The Animal Humane Society can use many of your throw away items such as old towels, newspapers and plastic bags. Or you can check with your local animal shelter. They would probably be very grateful to take your old items and used bags! Moving forward, try alternatives to plastic bags like storing food in mason jars.
- Wash laundry in cold water to save the extra energy it takes to heat the water from cold to hot. Line dry clothes that do not have to go into the dryer.
- Bike or walk in place of driving. Burn calories while saving the earth...sign us up!
- Purchase products from green companies. Here is a list of the Top Green Companies in the United States.
- Plant a tree or a garden to help reduce greenhouse emissions and pollution. Organizations such as Trees Atlanta have lots of fun planting activities planned this week. Check your local newspaper listings to see what's happening in your neighborhood. Or save five meters of rainforest by donating $5 to Cuipo (a meter is saved for every dollar donated).
- Opt for silence one day out of the week-no television, no phone, no computer, no distractions. Great for the planet, yes, but think about the positive effects on your mind.
- Instead of going to the gym (drive car, workout on treadmill, watch tv, listen to radio=lots of energy use) get some exercise outside like walking, running, biking, or hiking. Enjoy the birds singing as your background music.
What would you add to this list?
You've probably heard by now that being a vegan is better for the environment. After all, it was all over the news recently when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggested that eating a plant-based diet is not only better for health, but also the environment. Their report stated,
"The organically grown vegan diet had the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality, and the average Italian diet had the greatest projected impact,” according to the report. “Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment; other foods estimated to have high impact included cheese, milk, and seafood."
Even if you are not vegan, please take note that even the smallest changes can make BIG differences. For example if you substitute vegetables or a plant-based protein for meat for just one meal a day you can make a big impact. Or, if you decide to jump on board with Meatless Mondays, eating all plant-based foods for one day out of the week, you are making a difference. So don't think it needs to be all or nothing or your doomed. Yes, being vegan benefits your health, the environment and animals. However, simply cutting back on meat, poultry, fish and dairy can create huge benefits for your health, the environment and animals. The following facts were adapted from Cowspiracy. Check out their site for more details and definitely see the film if you have not done so yet!
1. WATER: Animal agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of water consumption in the United States and 23-30% of all the fresh water in the world.
- 2,500 gallons of water is needed to product 1 lb of beef
- 1,000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 gallon of milk
- 900 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 lb of cheese
- 477 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 lb of eggs
- The amount of gallons of water needed to produce 1 lb of vegetables, legumes, fruits or grains ranges from 34 gallons/lb (broccoli) to almost 300 gallons/lb for rice
2. GREENHOUSE GASES: Livestock and their byproducts are responsible for more than 51% of worldwide CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, produced from an animal's digestion, has a global warming potential of almost 86 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time frame. Livestock is also responsible for 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which is 296 more potent than CO2 and can stick around our environment for 150 years.
3. LAND: Over 45% of the earth's land is used for animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and destruction of habitats.
4. WASTE: Animal agriculture produces 130 times more waste than humans in the United States alone. More animal waste equals more methane and faster climate change.
5. OCEANS: Talk about an unsustainable practice, consider this: we could see a depleted ocean by the year 2048. For every pound of fish caught, five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded. As many as 40% of fish caught each year are discarded. It is estimated that as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year from fishing vessels and 40-50 million sharks are killed in fishing nets and lines.
6. RAINFORESTS: Up to 91% of Amazon destruction is from animal agriculture. Clearing land for animal agriculture is leading to the death of wildlife and species extinction. It also contributes further to climate change with the release of CO2 as land is cleared.
7. HUMANITY: There are currently over 7 billion humans on this planet with a billion of them going hungry and another billion suffering from hidden hunger while others over consume. Sadly, over 70% of the grain grown in the world is to feed animals, contributing to global hunger.
Whatever your conviction might be for eating more plants and less meat (health, environment or animals) know that you are contributing to sustainable practices for the planet when you opt for plant-based choices. You're saving water, land and rainforests; reducing waste; and supporting the fight for hunger when you choose local, organic plant-based food.
As we approach Earth Day on April 22nd, it’s the perfect time to reflect on our personal practices and inquire what we are currently doing and what we can do better to honor, respect and preserve Mother Earth for our time now, and for future generations. From now through April 22nd, we will be doing just that – reflecting on our own personal practices and practices of those around us. We will highlight certain areas where we, as a society, can make positive changes and embrace eco-friendly ways. One food-related practice that's extremely important to all of us at nicobella is the use of palm oil.
What is palm oil? Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit. The palm fruit is originally from Western Africa, however can grow wherever heat and rainfall are abundant.
The palm oil industry is linked to major environmental issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses (homes taken away from indigenous people in order to plant palm and, in some areas, palm oil plantations are linked to child slavery). The World Wildlife Fund states that rainforest areas equivalent to 300 football fields are cleared every hour to make way for the palm oil industry. This destruction is leading many species to extinction. For example, the Sumatran elephant is losing its home due to palm oil plantations. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the elephant families to find food and water, making it impossible to survive. Scientists estimate that orangutans could become extinct from the wild in the next 20 years. With no rainforests available the orangutans are forced to live in palm plantations where they are viewed as an annoyance and either shot or captured, babies ripped away from their moms, and sold illegally to the wildlife trade. It is estimated that the Sumatran tiger will be extinct within the next three years, again, due to palm oil. Can you imagine a world without elephants, tigers or orangutans?
Palm Oil is not only a problem for the local rainforests. When rainforests are cleared, a significant amount of carbon pollution is released, making palm oil a major driver of human induced climate change. (source, Rainforest Action Network)
So why is there such a high demand for palm oil? Big companies love the versatility of palm oil because it’s inexpensive, shelf stable and can be used in everything from food to cosmetics to household cleaners, making it a very profitable ingredient. When research started to emerge about the negative effects of trans fats in our food, companies quickly jumped on board to remove those trans fats. What did they replace it with? Yes, you guessed it, palm oil. It’s currently found in roughly half the packaged products sold in US grocery stores, including snack foods like ice cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, peanut butter, cereals, doughnuts and potato chips. (source, Rainforest Action Network)
What about sustainable palm oil? There is palm oil that is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) who enforces criteria and policies to help reduce the negative impacts of palm oil plantations on the environment, animals and communities. There is a set of environmental and social criteria, created by RSPO, which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize negative impacts. You can read more about their principles and criteria here.
What can you do about this environmental, animal welfare and human crisis? Read ingredients. If it says palm oil (and it’s not organic or CSPO), put it back on the shelf. Your dollar has more power than you know. By not purchasing products made with palm oil, you’re committing to preserve the rainforest and the wildlife that inhabits it, fighting climate change and being a voice for indigenous people who are treated unfairly on these plantations. By not purchasing a product with palm oil you’re also committing to not support a company who’s financial interests overpower the interest of the planet and its species (including you).
If you’d like to take further action, visit the Rainforest Action Network to see how you can be more involved. Also, be sure to check out the Snack Food 20 to see how your favorite companies score on responsibility and integrity.
If you want to view two impactful videos on the issue, see below. Warning: keep tissues by your side.
Palm Oil: How Our Consumer Choices Affect Wildlife
Orangutan Asks Girl For Help In Sign Language
Please share and keep the conversation going. Let us know your thoughts and what you find in your food ingredients, household cleaners and body care products.
Hello nicobella friends,
Are you a big fan* of peanuts like us?
*Big fan=you snack on them daily, add them to stir fries, include them in smoothies, eat peanut butter out of the jar and love peanut butter dressings and sauces.
If you are the definition of a big fan, we have great news for you. Not only are our peanut butter square prices marked down from $7.95 per box to $5.95 per box (25% off!), but you can feel really good when eatingnicobella peanut butter squares. We start with organic raw Georgia peanuts, grind them into peanut butter, add just a touch of molasses then coat them in organic and Fair Trade dark chocolate. A little sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt makes them the perfect bite size treat, with only 50 calories per square.
Here are some fun facts about peanuts:
- Peanuts are packed with 8 grams of protein per ounce.
- Peanuts are a great source of fiber (2.5 grams per ounce).
- Peanuts are choc-full of folate, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium.
- Peanuts may help to control blood sugar levels with their perfect ratio of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, as well as their high fiber content.
- A handful of peanuts every day can reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Peanuts may lower your total cholesterol and LDL (not-so-good) cholesterol, while increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Peanuts are packed with Arginine, an amino acid that can increase production of nitric oxide, which improves blood circulation.
- Eating a handful of nuts each day may help with weight loss.
Enjoy 25% off our peanut butter squares today through Wednesday 12pm EST. (price already marked down)
Yoga for Paws + Valentine's Pop Up
Tough Love Yoga
1530 Dekalb Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
For those of you who are in the Atlanta, GA and surrounding areas, please come join us on February 6th from 4:30-7:30pm at Tough Love Yoga for yoga, wine and chocolate tasting, and Valentine's shopping - all for a good cause. The All Levels Yoga Class will be led by Neda Draupadi Honarvar, owner of Tough Love Yoga and is $10 per person, all of which will be donated to Lifeline Animal Project and APBN Spay and Neuter Program. If you cannot join us for yoga, then join us for the wine and chocolate tastings, Valentine's shopping, raffles and prizes from 5:30-7:30pm-it's FREE! We hope to see you there to help support homeless dogs in Atlanta. (If you'd like to take the yoga class, please sign up at ToughLoveYoga.com. There's limited space so sign up soon!)
Finally, don't forget to follow our blog and social media communities for plant-based inspirations all month long. If you missed it last week, you can catch up now on The Power of Plant-Based Eating to Prevent and Treat Diabetes and a yummy recipe for Healthy Breakfast Scones.
Enjoy your week!
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- Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 1998;317(7169):1341–1345.
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- Kushi LH, Folsom AR, Prineas RJ, Mink PJ, Wu Y, Bostick RM. Dietary antioxidant vitamins and death from coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. N Engl J Med.1996;334(18):1156–1162.