Monday, May 19, 2008

Eat Local is Green

Go Green Team

Over the weekend, my family and I volunteered for the Green Team at this year's Green Fest at Navy Pier. An outfit from North Carolina called Seven-Star marshaled the forces. Our mission: keep the landfill bound dumpster at Navy Pier to the barest. Our tactics: Mom and Dad went with the frontline troops, guarding four sets of garbage bins (and God help anyone who put compostable* material in my solid waste bin); the kidz went with the brigade in the rear. Although us frontliners tried to ensure that all garbage got neatly divided, those in the rear followed up to ensure it fully happened. Together, the Green Team/Seven Star put dry paper one place, metals and plastics 1-6 (although there was one number I believe that even we could not take-on) in another place; all food waste, plus all manner of bio-containers, plus soiled paper went to a third place (to be composed by some master industrial composter) (fact: Green Fest only served vegan food so that all food waste could be composted--meat in compost piles attracts the wrong kind). We did not stop there. We stacked and bundled the cardboard. We reconned for Cliff bar wrappers that would be sent back to Cliff, same with the juice boxes from Honest Juices. We isolated E-waste, with those dreaded heavy metals, for render-safe procedures (fact: yes there was some). We succeeded brilliantly, we can proudly proclaim mission accomplished.

And this has to do with eating local. Well, there's nothing like being knee deep in goo-goo muck to get you hep on waste. Clearly, the best way to reduce and eliminate landfill bound material is to compost. Remember, space is not the only landfill issue. Food waste, rotting away in landfills, produces huge amounts of methane gas, gas that's just plain horrible for the world. (Wanna whiff, drive the Eisenhower around Hillside, IL). Compost your food waste.

And...and, now we get to the local part. What's left after the food waste. How 'bout the packaging? the bags, especially the dreaded plastic bags? It's not that eating local necessarily reduces packaging, it's the nature of the way that one shops and buys if you are a locavore that reduces packaging. For instance, the bulk of my produce this week came from my Farmer Vicki's CSA box. That's one re-usable box. A few of the products come wrapped. Who wants a CSA portion with leaves of baby spinach spewed all over the place. Still, it is the barest of extra packaging. Compare greatly to the packaging at a supermarket or worse Costco where everything is packaged. Shop the farmer's markets, you'll find the same sort of thing (bring your own bags to schlep the stuff home!).

Want more? Snazzy packaging technology just does not seem to have reached the type of people you buy from when you buy local. I have tons of local jellies in the Bungalow. Not a single one is packaged in a PVC upside down squeezable container. When I buy berries or the like, it nearly always in cardboard, and when it's not, it's in balsa wood. (Fact: the farmers gladly will take back your used containers.) The actions of buying local encourage green.

The Green Team marches on.

*Leading candidate for 2008 word of the year?

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