Climate change is such a big issue, it is understandable if you think your actions alone will have little or no effect. But, you CAN make a difference!
When those of us in North America reach for a paper towel or any tissue product like toilet paper or Kleenex, it probably started off as a tree in the boreal forest of northern Canada. This is one of the last big, intact forests in the world.
Boreal forests stretch across Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Northern Europe, and together they form a giant reservoir that stores carbon dioxide. That is important because that carbon would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Collectively, boreal forests lock away about 703 gigaton of carbon in woody fibers and soil. Tropical forest, by comparison, store about 375 gigaton of carbon.
Because of climate change, these forests are highly susceptible to wildfires, like the ones in Australia, and pest infestations. Anything we can do to keep them intact is good.
In the United States, we consume more than 15 billion pounds of tissue each year. That’s more than 50 pounds per person.
Toilet paper is an industrially produced, single-use paper product. But it’s important to remember that many toilet paper products equal trees and we flush them down the drain at an alarming rate. Each year, vast swaths of forest are logged to produce the wood pulp that gets turned into toilet paper, with the final product chemically bleached to whiten and soften.
In fact, tissue products like facial tissues, paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper are the fastest-growing sector of the international paper industry, with production forecast to rise by 6 percent through 2022 and maybe more with Covid striking fear of a toilet-paper-scaricity and people stockpiling rolls and rolls and rolls. In the United States, we consume more than 15 billion pounds of tissue each year. That means we currently buy, use, and flush about 20 percent of the world’s supply of tissue products, even though we account for just over 4 percent of the world’s population.
Fortunately, there are plenty of competitively priced varieties of tissue with minimal impact on forests. The Issue With Tissue report’s scorecard assigns grades to all the major brands of toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissues, as well as popular house brands at leading supermarkets and brands that have adopted more sustainable practices.
These six products are made entirely of recycled material and use a chlorine-free bleaching process that does less harm to the environment than other methods.
- Green Forest
- 365 Everyday Value 100% Recycled
- Earth First
- Natural Value
- Seventh Generation
- Trader Joe’s Bath Tissue
The Natural Resources Defense Council grades products. Grades of A go to toilet papers that contain the most postconsumer recycled content; this means that most of their materials have already been processed once and therefore reduce waste. The brands that get an A “have looked into the impact of their products and are embracing alternative materials that will allow us to continue using tissue products with a fraction of the environmental cost,” says a spokesperson for the organization, Jennifer Skene.
Brands that get an F in the scorecard, including Charmin Ultra, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, and Up & Up Soft & Strong, rely entirely on virgin forest fiber for their products. These tissue products have three times the carbon footprint of those made from recycled paper; many also use dangerous bleaching processes. You may notice that the label “FSC certified” appears on some of these brands. While the Forest Stewardship Council is the world’s most creditable independent certifier of responsibly managed forests and provides an important set of standards for products that require the use of wood (like lumber), there is no reason tissue products should be made from trees in the first place, Skene says.
Next time you reach for a package of facial tissue at the supermarket, visualize a majestic evergreen spruce or fir in the forest. “Something that we use once and throw away should not be destroying a vital part of our earth,” says Shelley Vinyard, who oversees NRDC’s work encouraging corporations to establish stronger protections for Canada’s boreal forest.
In the bathroom, use paper tissue products with reusable materials that get the job done. Keep rags beside your sink and use them as much as possible instead of paper towels. Replace paper napkins with cloth versions, and instead of one-and-done facial tissues, rely on handkerchiefs and washcloths that can be laundered and reused indefinitely.
Check out Package Free Shops or The Tare Market for ideas on how to lessen your one-and-done products. You will find reusable organic cotton facial rounds and wipes, organic “unpaper towels”, and reusable Swedish dishcloths among a host of other ideas to help you make a difference.
How much would giving up meat help the environment?
Going plant-based for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60%, eating plant-based full time could be up to 85%!
Compared with a 100g portion of vegetables, a 50g chunk of red meat is associated with at least 20 times as much greenhouse-gas emitted and 100 times as much land use.
Eating a plant-based diet is not just good for our health; it is good for Earth’s health. Dana Hunnes of UCLA Sustainabilty says, “Shifting away from animal-based foods [could not only] add up to 49% to the global food supply without expanding croplands,”but would also significantly reduce carbon emissions and waste byproducts that end up in our oceans and as seafood byproducts”.
If each and every person in the United States gave up meat and dairy products on one or more days of the week, ideally, all days of the week, we would save the environment from thousands of tons of carbon emissions.
In one year, animal husbandry creates as much carbon emissions as the entire transportation sector.
Similarly, by reducing our animal-based foods consumption, we would reduce our water use at least by half as animal husbandry utilizes more than 50% of fresh water.
These reductions would reduce the direct and indirect threats to Earth’s health and habitat for all wildlife, flora, and fauna.
As for nutritional concerns: Pound-for-pound, gallon-for-gallon, animal-sourced foods use vastly more water and carbon to produce than plant-based foods. However; ounce-for-ounce, the amount of protein that you get from plant-sources, such as legumes, seeds, and grains, is closely on par, plus full of other healthful nutrients including fiber, sterols, stanols, and vitamins and minerals.
Arugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated around the Mediterranean. It’s also known as rucola, salad rocket, and Italian cress. Arugula is a member of the Brassica, or Cruciferous, family. This classification includes cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Arugula leaves are tender and bite-sized with a tangy, peppery flavor. Along with other leafy greens, arugula contains high levels of beneficial nitrates and polyphenol. It is a nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber and phytochemicals. Arugula is low in sugar, calories, carbohydrates, and fat. It’s high in several vital nutrients. These include:
- Calcium, which helps the blood to clot normally. It’s also necessary for bone health, tooth health, muscle function, and nerve function.
- Potassium, a mineral and an electrolyte that’s vital for heart and nerve function. It also helps the muscles contract normally. Potassium helps to reduce the negative effects of sodium, and it may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure for this reason.
- Folate, a B vitamin. It helps support the production of DNA and other genetic material. It’s particularly important for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Folate deficiency in pregnant women may lead to spina bifida, a neural tube defect.
- Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps support the immune system. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is important for tissue health and the absorption of iron from food.
- Vitamin K, which helps with blood coagulation. If you require a prescription blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin), discuss your vitamin K intake with your doctor prior to changing your eating habits.One cup of arugula provides 21.8 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, which goes towards the adult Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) daily value (DV) recommendation of 80 mcg for adults. Adequate vitamin K consumption improves bone health by playing an essential role in bone mineralization and helps to improve how the body absorbs and excretes calcium, which is another crucial nutrient for bone health. Arugula also contributes to a person’s daily need for calcium, providing 32 milligrams (mg) per cup, going towards the DV of 1,000 mg for adults.
- Vitamin A, the umbrella term for a group of fat-soluble retinoids. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, which supports immune function, cell growth, night vision, and overall eye health. It also works to help maintain kidney, lung, and heart function.
Cruciferous vegetables like arugula are a source of glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing substances. Glucosinolates may be responsible for the plants’ bitter taste and their cancer-fighting power. The body breaks down glucosinolates into a range of beneficial compounds, including sulforaphane.
Researchers have found that sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is involved in the progression of cancer cells. The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make foods that contain sulforaphane a potentially significant part of cancer treatment in the future.
Reports have linked diets high in cruciferous vegetables with a reduced risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and more.
Arugula and other cruciferous vegetables are a good source of fiber, which helps to regulate blood glucose and may reduce insulin resistance. High fiber foods make people feel fuller for longer, meaning they can help tackle overeating.
In addition, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that consuming a diet high in cruciferous vegetables could reduce atherosclerosis in older women. Atherosclerosis is a common condition where plaque builds up in the arteries, increasing a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems. The heart protective effects of these vegetables may be due to their high concentration of beneficial plant compounds, including polyphenols and organosulfur compounds.
How to Buy
Look for arugula that is fresh, vibrant and green.
Avoid arugula leaves that are wilted, yellowing or slimy. When buying prepackaged arugula, check the bag for excess water, as moisture can cause arugula to rot quickly.
You will find arugula fresh in late spring, summer, and early fall.
How to Store
Arugula should be refrigerated and kept dry. Storing the arugula in a linen bag or a dry paper towel can help the greens stay dry. Kept dry and cool arugula can last up to two weeks. Arugula cannot be frozen.
How to Cook
People commonly add fresh arugula to salads, but it also works well incorporated into pasta, casseroles, and sauces, just like other leafy greens.
It tends to sauté faster than its tougher cousins kale and collard greens. Because of its tenderness, and it lends more flavor to a dish than spinach or Swiss chard.
Due to its peppery flavor, people often mix arugula with other milder greens, such as watercress and romaine. In Italy, it is common to top pizza with arugula after baking.
Arugula is easy to grow and perfect for a windowsill garden.
Here are some tips for incorporating more arugula into your diet:
- Add a handful of fresh arugula to a tofu scramble.
- Throw a handful of arugula and blend into a fresh juice or smoothie.
- Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper. Eat as a side dish or top a baked potato.
- Add arugula leaves to a wrap, sandwich, or flatbread.
- Arugula’s leaf shape and taste also make it an interesting complement to citrus fruit and berry salads.
Arugula is delicious raw, and it can be used as a healthy add-on topping for pizza, nachos, sandwiches, and wraps. It can be served as a side salad with nothing more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Arugula can be used as an alternative to basil to make hot or cold pesto. When arugula is cooked, it loses some of its pepperiness.
Mango, Avocado, and Arugula Salad
VegKitchen/ Nava; photo: pinterest
- 1 medium mango, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- ¼ to ½ cup pecan halves or chopped walnuts, as desired
- A big handful or two of baby arugula leaves, as desired
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, optional
- Combine the mango with the avocado (toss the avocado gently with the lemon or lime juice first) on a serving platter or shallow bowl.
- Add the pecans and arugula, and toss gently. Sprinkle with the coconut flakes and serve at once.
This salad is good with no dressing at all, but if you’d like, you can up the lemon and lime juice and add a splash of olive oil.