- Your extended family regularly gathers for holiday feasts,
and one of them is a huge fan of your fresh peach cobbler.
For which of these family get-togethers should you prepare your fabulous dish?
Though a beautiful homemade pie might look nice surrounded by dyed eggs and
fluorescent yellow Peeps, peaches are only in season during the summer months.
It takes a lot of carbon to move fresh fruit from Chile to the U.S. in the middle of winter.
Reduce carbon emissions that are produced by the shipment of produce
from faraway countries by consuming fruits and veggies when they're in season locally.
- When you go to bake that fabulous pie, you'll use:
Glass is cheap and easy to recycle. Not only that, but it also heats evenly. That non-stick finish
on the metal comes from perfluoro-octanoic acid, a "likely carcinogen," according to the U.S.
EPA. The silicone? You're seeing it in everything now from cupcake pans to spatulas.
According to the National Geographic Green Guide,
the sand and oxygen used to make FDA-approved food grade silicone are safe enough.
But the additives used to create the colors and flexibility don't appear on labels,
and this product is not easily recycled. We suggest playing it safe until
more health information is available.
- Which of the following dishes contributes the most to deforestation?
A leading cause of deforestation in the Americas and elsewhere
is the raising of cattle and their feed. Deforestation is a reason given
by many eco-minded folks for going vegetarian. More.
- Your sweetie is a pescatarian (they eat fish but no other animals),
so you're heading to the market for some fresh catch for dinner.
Which choice is best for the environment?
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide,
orange roughy grow slowly and don't reproduce until they're 20 years old
(so the population is highly vulnerable to over-fishing),
are caught using a process that damages the ocean floor, and often contain high levels of mercury. As for farmed salmon,
Seafood Watch says waste from these farms is released directly into the ocean,
and that parasites and diseases from farmed salmon can spread to wild fish swimming near the farms.
So go with tilapia farmed in the U.S., which most often occurs in closed inland systems
that guard against escapes and pollution. But be sure to ask about the source of the fish;
in other countries where tilapia is farmed, escapes and pollution are bigger threats.
- When cutting up veggies from your backyard garden, you should you cut them on:
Use a cutting board made of reclaimed or sustainably harvested wood.
Bacteria thrive in the grooves made in plastic cutting boards by your knife,
whereas the lignins in wood have natural anti-bacterial properties. That said,
because there is some debate
about the benefits of wood versus plastic, we're giving 5 points to those who said plastic.
As for the Times' food section -- yecchh!
- You want to enjoy a mug of tea while you're steaming carrots
(which you'll douse with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, toasted ground coriander, and rose water and top with chopped fresh
mint). If you're heating just one mug of water for your tea, which of these is the most energy-efficient way to do that?
Microwaves are more efficient than gas or electric ovens, but when it comes to stovetops, it's trickier. In this case, the microwave is the right answer because you're heating up one mug of tea.
- Guests at your cocktail party want their martinis shaken, not stirred. You'll fill the shaker with ice cubes:
Through-the-door features that serve up ice and cold water
10 percent to the labeled use of refrigerators. Make the cubes yourself!
- The best way to get rid of your food scraps is to:
About 30 percent of residential waste is food.
Compost piles and worm bins are great ways to recycle your non-animal food waste and cycle it into your garden.
For perishables, food rescue programs specialize in
redistributing leftovers, like that giant casserole you made for the dinner party only three friends showed up for.
And you can give your pooch meat scraps, but you still need a compost pile to deal with produce.
In some instances the garbage disposal is considered "less bad" than the garbage can,
because some of the waste goes to water treatment
plants that transmute solid food waste into fertilizer. But much of it also ends up in landfill anyway.
And any food that is greasy or oily can harm pipes and even end up back in the water supply. Avoid food scraps altogether
and join the Clean Plate Club.
- When you shop for things like cereal, nuts, grains, and dried fruit, you:
Of course you don't want to create waste from food that goes bad before you can use it,
but you can buy small portions from bulk bins at the local store and avoid the horrendous
amount of packaging that comes with some purchases. You can also re-use bags.
Buying large quantities at Costco is like buying in bulk, but sometimes there's
just as much packaging as there is on smaller, individual items, and waste is more likely
if you're single. Then, too, big-box stores come with their own set of environmental issues.
- You managed to buy a fixer-upper and are having green thoughts while planning the remodel.
Which kind of countertop should you opt for in the kitchen?
made of some kind of recycled material is best -- recycled paper (yes, these exist!) or recycled glass.
Terrazzo is a mix of about 70-90 percent recycled glass and cement; the little bit of cement mix
makes it a lot more durable than 100 percent recycled glass countertops. Cement countertops
are next best, particularly if they're made from fly ash, a recycled material. But cement
production is carbon intensive (5 percent of the world's emissions by some estimates) which keeps
it from being the top choice. New cement options expected to hit the market in the next
couple of years will supposedly produce 95 percent fewer carbon emissions, but we'll see.
Granite and marble are taken from nature and are not easy to recycle once in place. Stainless
steel uses lots of energy to produce and pollutes in the process. Laminate and other
synthetic materials use resin that may contain formaldehyde.