Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Green List

You’ve seen it before.

“101 things you can do to be green in 2010” and, “10 ways to Green your life” and… many, many (many) others.

But you haven’t seen it from me!

Don’t worry though, I know that you can’t “green” your life in 10 steps. In fact, I love environmental things and talk/think about them all day long and I STILL don’t live a 100% “green” life … whatever that means.

So I’m just here to tell you a few tips I’ve learned along the way to just do what you can to help.

Before I begin, there are two lessons I’ve learned that you must always remember and that underscore this whole idea:

1. You can’t do it all. No one person is going to save the world or have zero impact. That is actually one thing I really like about environmentalists (or just people who care, if you don’t like that term), is that they must rely on others and believe in good intentions of all people.

In other words, since we can’t do it all by ourselves, we must rely on the progress of others to believe that any change can happen!

Anyway, what you can do is pick one area that you really advocate for and adhere to. I have become passionate about food issues, but others focus on transportation, corporate responsibility, building, renewable energy, fisheries, forests, the list is endless! There really is something for everyone out there!

2. Be willing to make the initial sacrifice. At first, some of these things might seem like a big deal, but I promise your life will often be better off for it in the end. Maybe you’ll save money, be more active, feel good about yourself, get your name out there, feel healthier, or have something to share with your grandchildren. Who knows, all I’m sayin’ is pick something new and give it a try.

Got an idea for me? Share it in the comments! I’d love to know how you “green” your life. (… Although that term grosses me out. I have to think of a new one.)

Anyway, here I go. Oh, also: don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing. Maybe pick your “area” and just read that.

Continue reading

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I had an article published!

It’s about the meat we eat. I think it’s really important – but you probably already know that about me if you read this blog.

Enjoy (and sorry for my long absence. I’m coming back… soon… with a vengeance!)

-Jenny

Make your meals meatless

Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can help our health and the environment.

By Jenny Lynes

The Green Room

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Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010

“Help stop violence?”

“Not today,” you said.

Gruesome images of upside-down, bloody, feces-stained cows litter animal rights and environmental literature. They’re on the pamphlets you’ve rejected on State Street, too.

It’s disconcerting to read studies about the negative effects of red meat and belching cows ruining the atmosphere, to be sure. Still, surprisingly little of it actually translates to a change when we’re standing in the lunch line. The answer to why most of us don’t oblige and cut down? Simple: Meat tastes good.

Though I won’t deny an occasional urge for my favorite sausage-filled breakfast sandwich, I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in cutting out meat to improve my health and help out the environment. So what did it take?

For me, it wasn’t until I left my urban home to work on a small family farm in Maine and asked the farmer what he thought about “industrial meat” that I realized how simple the choice really is. “I would never eat that shit,” he said. That pretty much settled it.

Don’t get me wrong––the farmer and I shared plenty of eggs (fresh from the coup) and bacon (formerly known as Napoleon the pig). But as I learned more about the implications of mass-produced, machinelike treatment of animals, I learned that most of the meat I’d been eating away from the farm was a product of a disgusting, unethical and dangerous industry that wreaks havoc on our land, water, air and health. Did you know that the chickens to be served at KFC are fed and raised in a manner that they reach physical maturity in just over one month? Count me out.

Let’s put animals aside, though, and first consider the implications for our own bodies. There was a time when eating meat was considered a treat. Now, it’s not unheard of to have it in three meals a day. Need protein, you say? Americans currently consume around 110 grams of it a day, which is roughly double the government’s recommended intake. In fact, new research has shown that high consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease, as much as 50 percent among women. This type of diet also increases our chances for diabetes, and the rates have sharply increased since 1980 to prove it. Don’t worry too much though, there’s still time to prevent it simply by replacing some meat eating with plant-based foods.

Americans spend about $147 billion annually on preventable illnesses related to food choices: obesity, salmonella outbreaks, diabetes and heart complications. This, paired with astounding hormone influxes and antibiotic resistance thanks to the manner in which it is produced, results in a big headache for the health sector. All the while, the meat industry is encouraged to expand because of better sales than ever before.

While there are scary implications of mass-produced mystery meat (read: McDonald’s), it’s not that all meat is bad for you. But, we must consider if we want to support such practices and realize that we often do so at the expense of putting something healthier into our bodies.
Onto the environment. Since pigs, for one, produce about four times the amount of waste a human does, you can only imagine what happens with literally millions of pounds of feces created daily––it leaves the feedlots with a one-way ticket into our streams and rivers, polluting our air on its way. On top of this pollution, the industry contributes huge amounts of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

However, these are preventable problems. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week, the effect would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. While I have determined that the quality of industrial meat is unsatisfactory for my preferences, I realize that is personal. One thing that isn’t: our responsibility to be informed and choose to take steps to help preserve the resources on this planet for those who will come after us.

My overall-wearing, milking, chicken-feeding days have ended, and I’ve resumed my Madison residence for now, but I remain happy and confident with my decision to give up meat unless I know where and how it was raised.

While I don’t believe everyone has to take this step, I do think the message is clear––we need to change the way we eat. I propose that we all eat much, much less meat than we tend to currently. My challenge for Madison is to include it once every other day for now––but I think you’ll see, as I did, that a life with meat as a treat is surprisingly pleasing.

Jenny Lynes is a contributor to The Green Room. Please send all responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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Bah-humbug

Ever since Obama’s State of the Union address last Wednesday, it’s seemed like everyone’s been pretty grumpy and negative (to say the least).

Well, certainly the environmental community has been, and I suppose the liberals who said the speech was too moderate and the conservatives who complained that it was too liberal are maybe a little more than, “a bit grumpy,” but overall, the mood is not something to sing about.

Although it might have started last Wednesday when your issue area didn’t get the coverage you hoped for, or it was too expensive, or not enough, or whatever… the community (at least the one I’m surrounded by) has just remained a bunch of Negative Nancys and I’m sick of it! (As you can see, it’s beginning to affect me too.)

I understand, it was really disappointing when Obama said this (and pretty much only this) about the environment:

…But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

Here are some of the responses from some greenies that I look up to and respect from twitter that night: (fyi- #sotu just means State of the Union)

“Uh, I’m sorry, did he just call the US a “leader” in the fight on climate change? In what universe? #sotu

“Maybe those kids getting that education can breathe in all that clean coal. #ecosotu

“Man, the section of this speech on climate/energy is just depressing. Boilerplate, blah. No urgency. #fucked #sotu

“So, Republicans have refused to clap for bailout bashing or tax cuts. Maybe if he floats torture … #sotu

“Wow, that clean energy stuff came and went pretty damn quick. #sotu

“I must be broken. I just don’t get the old Obama chills any more. This year has drained my enthusiasm for words. #sotu

While the political leanings of these authors are clear, it’s not the politics one way or another that got me the most riled up… it’s all the negativity (and how uncomfortably divided that room was)!

Then, one Thursday I got into a spat with a Monsanto social media stalker who criticized my informing the twitter world that 2 GMO-loving politicians had been appointed into the FDA by sending me this (one is a previous Monsanto employee actually, Michael Taylor, and the other is Tom Vilsack).

At that point, never have I:

a. Been so concerned with national politics that it actually affected my mood (I know this happens to other people all the time, but I usually remain a bit more removed)

b. Wanted to do something about it more

c. Felt so powerless and discouraged!

And then I decided enough is enough. I’m hoping instead of being sad, pessimistic, hopeless, and powerless, we can pull ourselves up from our bootstraps, focus on our communal need for improvement and work collaboratively, deliberatively, and creatively to solve these problems!

see:

Sound a bit idealistic? kinda, I know.

But it makes sense. I’m not saying that these issues are easy, because if they were they wouldn’t be issues. But I think a focus on COLLABORATIVE innovation and not lingering on being pissed will take us a long way.

So, now I’m trying to be super productive. Here are some things I’m up to:

– Working with Clean Wisconsin to promote the Clean Energy Jobs Act

– Working with a group of super engaged students to come up with waste disposal alternatives for Madison to be presented in a public forum at the end of the semester

– Hopefully blogging about being practical, effective, consistent, motivational and positive in green endeavors

– Writing from time to time in the Daily Cardinal‘s “Green Room” column

– Learning a lot in my last semester of college (!!!) so I can use these skills to help get the rest of the environmental community to stop whining all the time. (ok, that’s an exaggeration)

Sorry if this seemed a bit rantish. It’s just that I know we can do better and I want people to be excited for our future, not scared of it.

So, here’s to a good rest of the week, innovation, and making something to be positive about when finding one is tough.

Optimistically,

Jenny

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