April 3 - April 24, 2019

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  • Reflection Question
    Food Learn the Truth About Expiration Dates
    How does knowing the difference between use by, sell by, and best by dates empower you to make better decisions?

    Brent Blanchard 4/25/2019 1:50 PM
    Early on I learned the difference between expiration, best-by, and sell-by dates, having spent my youth growing up in restaurants. Seeing a best-by-date on salt, honey, sugar or vinegar had me shaking my head as it has more to do with marketing than any health concerns.

  • Philip Au 4/25/2019 6:24 AM
    I thought this was a great way to encourage sustainability efforts and have a bit of a competitiveness while learning. I enjoyed the challenges and wish I could have done even more. I think this challenge sparked a few new ways for me to continue to be more sustainable after this challenge is over, including meatless meals, more virtual meetings and becoming an advocate in my community. 

  • John Paine 4/25/2019 5:25 AM
    This went well - looking forward to next year!
  • Reflection Question
    Women and Girls Support Women-Owned Businesses
    Globally, women typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men. How can you better support communities by supporting women? Can you share any past experiences that may help others take action?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 7:38 PM
    Support qualified female candidates for office. Get them elected. Don't stand for the BS media spin that casts doubt on her character-- just look at her record and policy proposals and evaluate on true merit. 
  • Reflection Question
    Materials Research Cement Alternatives
    Concrete is a good example of a material that most of us encounter every day, but may its carbon footprint is not obvious. What other everyday materials might have a large carbon footprint? How can you find out more?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 7:29 PM
    So many things! Clothes, shoes, toys, cosmetics, food. "Life Without Plastic" is a handy resource book, and research done by environmental watchdog groups like the NRDC and the Nature Conservancy are invaluable.
  • Reflection Question
    Women and Girls Fund Family Planning
    When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting the expressed needs of women, it results in empowerment, equality, and well-being, and the benefits to the planet are side effects. Why is family planning an important civil rights consideration?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 7:24 PM
    Knowledge and access is everything when it comes to reproductive rights and agency. Sex is often such a taboo subject in many cultures, so comprehensive formal education on the subject is often lacking, or comes too late. Access to healthcare and services are critical for a healthy, functioning, and balanced society. 

    Overpopulation is the elephant in the room of climate impacts-- every prior age of extinction (except the dinosaurs) has been caused by the overproliferation of a single species that caused an excess of carbon in the atmosphere. That's us! As a species, we have been wildly successful, to the point where now we have created the perfect environmental conditions for our own extinction. Reproductive rights-- knowledge and access-- are the key to stopping population growth and allowing for a more equitable society that offers prosperity to everyone. 
  • Reflection Question
    Materials Share Bioplastic Disposal Tips
    What concerns you the most about how we are affecting the planet? Consider both local and global actions.

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 7:11 PM
    Pollution is everywhere-- some is easy to see, but most of it isn't as obvious, like contaminants in water, air and food. Receipts from the grocery store are coated in BPA, which absorbs through the skin when you touch it and acts as a potent endocrine disruptor, even in small amounts. Synthetic fabrics deposit contaminating microfibers into water systems. Pesticides from fruits and vegetables are shown to affect brain development of babies in utero. There's so much harm we're doing, not just to ourselves, but every other living thing, and almost all of it is about increasing profits in an unsustainable economic system that relies on unlimited growth within a closed ecosystem. 
  • Reflection Question
    Land Use Research Peatlands
    Much of Indonesia's peatlands have been drained so they could be replaced with palm oil or pulp and paper plantations. How can you make choices that help to protect peatlands, even if you live far away from one?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 6:58 PM
    My husband's family in Ireland still heat their houses with peat they harvest and dry themselves every summer. That's how it's been done there for centuries. Now there's a lot of resentment because the EU is trying to limit or eradicate use of peat as fuel. It's a good example of how complex and deeply emotional large-scale transitions can be, when it means possibly losing traditions or practices that are unique to a local culture. 
  • Reflection Question
    Land Use Forest-Friendly Foods 1
    How is your diet currently impacting deforestation? What can you do to decrease your negative impact and increase your positive impact?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 6:50 PM
    Only grass-fed locally produced dairy and meat in our household....eggs from pastured chickens, and coffee and chocolate that is Rainforest Alliance certified. Palm oil never. The local, pastured and responsibly sourced products we get are definitely more expensive than conventional, but they taste better, are more satisfying, and have higher nutritional density and bio-availability, which means we're getting more nourishment bang for our buck, calorie for calorie. 

    One crop that I struggle with is avocados-- they're a staple food in our household, but I learned that monarch butterfly and other migrating pollinator species habitats are being destroyed in Mexico to grow avocados and meet increased American demand. So avocados only happen in the summer for us, when they can come from Florida and California. 
  • Reflection Question
    Food Support Local Food Systems
    Dependable fresh food, supporting local farmers and building resilient communities are just a few benefits of local food systems. Which of these (or other) advantages inspire you the most?

    Lielle Berman 4/24/2019 6:23 PM
    The freshness of local food is definitely a huge bonus in my mind. Not only does it taste better and more satisfying, but fruits and veggies lose nutritional density after harvest, so broccoli that was picked 10 days ago and transported 1,000 just isn't as nutritionally valuable as broccoli picked 2 days ago. Many people assume that the produce in the grocery store is all the same, but the less nutritional density a food has, the more we need to eat of it to be fully nourished, which can lead to a higher calorie intake, or difficulty feeling satisfied after meals. 

    Another perspective is that food is one of the primary ways the outside world communicates with our cells-- what we put into our bodies tells us on a cellular level where and when we are in the world and seasonal cycle. There is a theory that eating out-of-season food (like fresh strawberries and tomatoes in winter) handicaps the metabolism's ability to adequately acclimate us to the season we are actually in, leading to difficulty handling the cold in the winter, for instance.