The YES! No Impact Diary: Day 4

You've completed Wednesday's food experiment and are halfway through No Impact Week: Our participants step up to the challenge of going local.
Wednesday Food

Healthy eating can also lessen your footprint.

Click here for more stories from No Impact Week.
Click here
for more information on Day 4: Food


Kathy KottarasKathy Kottaras

Los Angeles, California

Mother, teacher, and eco-pilgrim Kathy Kottaras' lyrical take on the inner adventure of going No Impact.

Cooper Bates

Cooper Bates

Los Angeles, California

Cooper Bates is on a crusade to introduce no-impact living into family and professional life in Los Angeles.

Kelsea MacIlroy and Muck Kilpatrick
Kelsea MacIlroy and Muck Kilpatrick

Alamosa, Colorado

Follow Colorado couple Kelsea MacIlroy and Muck Kilpatrick as they promote low-impact living in their rural community.

Bunmi Ishola
Olubunmi Ishola

Dallas, Texas

Olubunmi Ishola is a No Impact skeptic, but she's willing to see if the experiment can prove her wrong.

Molly Eagen
Molly Eagen

Minneapolis, Minnesota

No Impact Man inspired Molly Eagen's graduate thesis on life without oil. Follow her tips this week as she takes on the No Impact Experiment.

Aran Seaman

Aran Seaman

British Columbia, Canada

Sustainability blogger Aran Seaman has done No Impact Week before—and he's back for round two.

Ryan Eisenberg
Ryan Eisenman

Houston, Texas

With the support of his family, Texas teenager Ryan Eisenman is figuring out how to go No Impact in high school.

Deb Seymour
Deb Seymour

Seattle, Washington

No Impact Week is showing aspiring environmentalist Deb Seymour that going green isn't always easy.


Don't forget to check out our No Impact Week featured blogroll for more great stories, and post your photos on our Flickr
page for a chance to win a subscription to YES!

More Day 4 experiences from our readers!

-Patches Magarro

-Sonya Harvey


Yes, with something we do three times a day (or more), it is good to look at trying to reduce one’s impact when it comes to food. The guide suggests eating local, organic and vegetarian. Food, with its packaging is also a source of trash. I do pretty well with this but could do more. This has been a slow evolution for me over the decades. I stopped eating red meats about 25 years ago. About 8 years ago I stopped eating flying vegetables (chicken). I still eat swimming vegetables (seafood) but usually this is when I eat out, so this is less than once a week.

The reasons for me are 1) my health and 2) for environmental reasons. If anyone is still eating a medium amount of red meat and interested in good health, they should look at this again. Environmentally, eating beef is a 10 to 1 reduction in plant protein and takes a huge amount of water. There is no way to feed the world with this kind of food inefficiency. This does not even talk about how most of the beef in this county is raised and processed. So for me the reasons to eat less meat just get better and better.

Today’s meals went something like this:

I buy veggies at the Farmers Market and Whole Foods because I can find out where they come from and choose local and seasonal  foods.
  • Organic mixed rolled oats, wheat, rye and barley hot cereal with organic brown sugar and organic buttery spread (which I like better than butter) for breakfast. Often this is organic granola and organic soymilk.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich (organic bread, California cheese, French mustard [oops]) and some chocolate milk (organic and fair trade) for lunch. Add tomatoes and avocadoes to the cheese sandwich in the summer time.
  • Huevos Rancheros, with organic beans (canned), cheese and salsa and some toast and a Full Sail ale to wash this down with (quick easy dinner before evening meeting).

Most of these items came from Trader Joe’s, so this is not hard to do or that expensive. I will not buy veggies at TJ’s because of the packaging and it is harder to tell where they come from. The Farmers Market and Whole Foods are where I get veggies because I can find out where they come from and choose local seasonal most of the time. This is easy at the Farmers Market because that is all they have, local and seasonal, but you still have to look for organic.

I do make some trade-offs. I could get the hot mixed grain cereal in bulk from Whole Foods but it costs more and I would have to buy each item separately. Price is still a driver for me, so when organic is too much I just can’t bring myself to go that way.

My challenges for food are to reduce the dairy, buy organic more often, cheese for example and keep working on the local, oh, and as you can see, more veggies. Trader Joe’s is good for a lot of items but check the label for where it comes from. A lot of their items come from overseas. When you don’t have a choice on this, say for coffee or chocolate, make sure you at least get organic and fair-trade whenever possible. This is getting easier and less expensive all the time with more choices. Oh, and avoid processed foods as well. Now, where can I get Two Buck Chuck in bulk?

Update on previous days. Since each day is added onto the next, I am still working on the previous days actions. I did find a place to borrow a hammer drill for my work project— in Portola Valley. I did consider riding my bike out there to pick it up, but this is a little far for the commuter bike (easy for the road bike) and I was not sure how big it was. So I decided to take the car. Well now since I am driving, what else can I do on this trip? I put all the other tools I might need for the job in the car, which I could not carry on my bike, I grabbed my shopping list and cloth bags, remembered the other items to take to work and grabbed the checks I needed to deposit since the bank is across the street from the grocery store.

For the work job this turned out for the better. Although the drill would have fit in my backpack or saddlebag, I did need a lot of my other tools that I would not have been able to carry. The hardware store was on my way to work so, I picked up the bolts I needed and returned some items I had left in the car for just such an opportunity. I got a box of bolts, more than I needed but cheaper and less packaging (I did end up needing more bolts than I counted originally). On the way home I stopped at Trader Joe’s and got the TJ’s items I needed and splurged and got some ice cream too. Not organic but I am pretty sure a local brand under the TJ’s label.

I did not have time to stop at Whole Foods or the bank to complete my car errands, as this would have rushed me for dinner and my 7:45 meeting in Mt. View. I did consider riding my bike to the Mt. View meeting but a 10-mile round trip on a cold night was not very appealing. If I took the car I could stop by Whole Foods on the way home hopefully justifying the car trip. I still have to work on riding more. At Whole Foods I remembered the cloth bag but forgot the plastic bags for the bulk items. Note to self: put the plastic bags for reuse in the cloth bag so they both get to the store. Since I had the car I picked up some other heaver items for work as well so I felt like this made good use of the car.

Since it is January, not all of your advice is "winter-related," e.g. 'Bike to your local farmer's market today.' I live in the Midwest and I feel very fortunate to have a Farmer's Market available 3-4 days per week in the Spring, Summer and Fall. But, it really is not an option in the winter.

Even though I (obviously!!) am not doing it perfectly, I DID find myself pumping ketchup directly on to my food tray's paper tray protector... I was acutely aware of the paper and cardboard I was soon going to be throwing away.

I had an interesting experience yesterday. I was about to eat dinner with the two children I was babysitting, when I was informed that I needed to take the kids to a lesson in a few short minutes. I made the mistake of not bringing any food with me in the car AND I did not want to burn any EXTRA gasoline to drive back to their house. (Yes, I am driving. No, I do not have a bicycle capable of hauling all three of us through the streets on a cold January night.) I decided my body's need to eat (and keep me from being grumpy/surly) was paramount while I waited one hour for aikido class to end. So I went to the closest restaurant and ordered some fries and a sandwich. I am grateful to have started this No Impact Week because even though I (obviously!!) am not doing it perfectly, I DID find myself pumping ketchup directly on to my food tray's paper tray protector and dipping my fries in to it. I avoided using (and pitching) those little ketchup cups. And I was acutely aware of the paper and cardboard I was soon going to be throwing away.

Awareness is the first step. Action comes next. I intend to act according to more and more of the recommendations on this site as the days and weeks of 2011 progress. There are SO MANY recommendations that it can be overwhelming, but I shall not use that as an excuse. I am saving my info with a star in my gmail inbox, so I can locate and use the info more easily. -"Wizard"

Because of some food-related issues in our family, food and what's in it has been a topic
in our house for several years now. We don't eat much in the way of over-processed/packaged foods. We don't buy or eat foods made with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. I make our bread, we make our own pastas, I buy stuff in bulk when I can, and we do a lot of our own cooking. Hubby takes his lunch to work everyday in a small cooler, and reuses the plastic bags that he wraps his food in. I've recently started looking at other options for him to wrap or contain his food that doesn't involve using plastic bags - and still fit in the space of his lunchbox, but for now, reusing them at least keeps them out of landfills or oceans.

A few years back, we started getting our milk and cream from a local family-owned dairy that delivers - in glass bottles no less - every week. When we've finished a bottle of milk, we rinse the bottle and put it back in the dairy box. On delivery day, they take the empties back to the dairy, clean and sterilize them, and use them again. When the bottles are finally taken out of circulation (because they've chipped or cracked) they get sent to a local company who breaks them down and uses them in creating countertops. They don't feed supplemental growth hormones to their cows, and they buy the feed and alfalfa hay from local providers. The milk tastes great, the cream is fantastic - and I'm happy knowing that my two kids aren't getting unnecessary hormones in their milk.

We stopped purchasing only organic produce (whether fresh or frozen) after this happened: Walked up to the freezer section, pulled out a bag of frozen organic broccoli and on the back of the package it says Grown in China. What?! I live in Colorado, but I'm buying organic broccoli shipped from China?! That's not a good choice - sure it was grown organically, but the carbon footprint of that 1-pound package of broccoli just increased by I don't know how much... lots, to be sure. So I've been trying to buy from local growers when I can, and definitely buying organic for the Dirty Dozen. I looked at what produce is locally available in this season - apples, potatoes, and onions. Not a lot of variety - but purchasing only that which is grown locally and seasonally will certainly push me to make sure I get busy canning and preserving food during spring, summer, and early fall months so that we have some available for the colder months.  -Laura W. in Colorado





No Paywall. No Ads. Just Readers Like You.
You can help fund powerful stories to light the way forward.
Donate Now.