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Going Green At Home: Eating More Vegetarian

Calf munching a leaf, courtesy of Wikimedia.
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Meatpacking plants across the country have become coronavirus hotspots, infecting workers and forcing some closures. This has made its way to the refrigerated section where some stores are limiting meat purchases to prevent shortages.

Livelihoods and health are at risk in many places, including Utah.

We wish a swift recovery to all of those who are ill, and a return to work as soon as it’s safe.

As a consumer, this state of affairs may have made you curious about how to cook healthy, satisfying meatless meals. The good news is that cooking more vegetarian meals– whether occasionally or frequently– is usually healthier for your family, as well as easier on the planet.

What we eat matters and it turns out that animal products have the largest carbon footprint.

Meatless Mondays

Did you know that cutting meat – and other foods – one day per week started as a national resource conservation strategy during wartime? Indeed, how and what we consume plays a central role during many national and international crises – from growing more food at home in Victory Gardens, to sharing our food resources at local food pantries.

Cabbage photo
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It’s International Compost Week!

Composting is the most local form of recycling. Not only does it help us create a closed loop by turning food and yard waste into new soil, composting helps keep our yards happy and healthy.

Compost puts yard and table scraps to work. By adding important nutrients to the soil and improving water absorption, compost can improve the overall health of your garden. As a result, compost helps reduce the need for harmful pesticides and even helps fight climate change.

Compost is a wonderful tool to keep our yards healthy and reduce waste. This is why the Composting Council’s Research & Education Program has celebrated International Composting Awareness Week for 25 years! This week, from May 3 – May 9, join us in celebrating compost!

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Going Green at Home: Support Pollinators

Spring is here! While many of our normal spring activities are cancelled this year, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy springtime in Utah and do your part for the planet.

Maybe you’re a skilled gardener, or maybe you want a new hobby to brighten up your front yard. Whatever the case may be, one of the best ways to go green from home is to make a home for pollinators.

A photograph of a monarch butterfly sharing a milkweed plant with a bee.
Both monarchs and bees love nectar-rich plants like milkweed.

Make Your Yard a Monarch Waystation

The migratory monarch butterflies help pollinate natural spaces across the country. Sadly, habitat loss has lead to a rapid decline in monarch populations that mirrors declines in other pollinator species. In the Rocky Mountains, the monarch butterfly population has declined over 97%.

However, we can help monarchs by giving them their favorite plant: milkweed. Monarchs love milkweed. In fact, it is the only plant that monarch caterpillars eat. Without milkweed, monarchs cannot survive. You can help protect monarchs and other pollinators by creating a monarch friendly habitat or waystation in your yard.

In Utah, the Showy Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are the most common milkweed species. Adult monarchs and other pollinators also benefit from having other native nectar-rich plants around. You can order milkweed seeds from Save Our Monarchs or your favorite seed seller. Find more information about Utah’s native plants here!

Another way to support monarch conservation is by becoming a Citizen Scientist. Help track milkweed and monarchs throughout the state and contribute to our scientific understanding of monarch populations and habitats. By protecting monarchs, we support biodiversity in our local environments.

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Happy Earth Day!

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Even after 50 years, Earth Day is more important than ever. Earth Day symbolizes a global desire to protect the planet and inspires thousands of actions – big and small – every year. Importantly, Earth Day serves as a reminder that collective action can make a difference.

50 Years of Earth Day

Following the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson joined forces with Denis Hayes, and other environmental activists to create a day dedicated to environmental stewardship. The first Earth Day included 20 million people across the country in peaceful demonstrations and actions for the environment. The event saw the creation of the recycling symbol; moreover, Earth Day sparked large-scale action to clean up pollution, protect wildlife, and, eventually, fight climate change.

The first Earth Day sent a signal to the U.S. government, demanding direct action to protect the planet. As a result of the demonstrations, the United States had the momentum and support needed to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shortly thereafter, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were passed to empower the EPA with key protections for the environment.

With billions of participants celebrating every year by holding garbage clean ups, tree planting, and other volunteer efforts, Earth Day is one of the most significant days of environmental action.

And these efforts are more important than ever. We know that the health of the planet and the health of our communities are inter-connected. 

In 2020, climate action is society’s preeminent environmental issue and is the theme that the Earth Day Network dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

“The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

The Earth Day Network on the theme for Earth Day 2020.

Indeed, the impacts of climate change– on vulnerable populations, on infrastructure and institutions, on disease vectors, on food availability & access, on public health, on the financial system — are wide-ranging and not dissimilar from what is happening now with the coronavirus pandemic. This is scary, but the good news is that we are showing how quickly we can mobilize to take action! And that too is one of the lessons from the first Earth Day 50 years ago today.

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How to Celebrate Earth Day from Home

Next week– April 22, 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! Although our communities are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many ways to celebrate Earth Day and take actions to protect the planet throughout Earth Week and beyond.

To help everyone get involved with Earth Day this year, we put together a new Earth Day page on slcgreen.com dedicated to local and global events.

This year, many of the traditional Earth Day events have moved online in the form of panels, webinars, and virtual workshops around the world. While some plans have been put on hold, moving Earth Day online allows more people to get involved and helps everyone stay safe. The format may have changed this year, but taking action to protect the planet is more important than ever.

On our Earth Day page, you’ll find ways to engage on one of the biggest days of environmental action. Moreover, you’ll learn ways to make every day Earth Day.

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Going Green at Home: Eating Healthy and Supporting Local Farmers

Our food choices are important. In fact, in Utah, food choices contribute 25% of the household carbon footprint. This a result of the growing, harvesting, transportation, packaging, and cooking processes involved with getting our food to our tables.

While the restrictions as a result of COVID-19 have made shopping for groceries difficult, and food access remains an issue. However, the country’s farmers still have a large supply of food. Safely harvesting and selling the produce is what’s challenging.

Even though the farmers markets are temporarily closed, we can still support local growers and get healthy, sustainably grown food at the same time.

Our local farmers need support right now! With only 2-3% of the produce consumed in Utah grown in the state, local agriculture is already in a fragile state.

SLCgreen is working hard with our partners to find ways to support these farmers so they can continue operating– during this challenging time and into the future.

Plus, eating more produce and eating local is good for you!

Read on . . .

Rows of vegetables in a local urban farm.
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Salt Lake City Fire Station 14 Wins Prestigious National Award

Salt Lake City’s Fire Station 14, courtesy of architects Blalock & Partners,

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The Engineering News Record (ENR) chose Salt Lake City’s Fire Station 14 as their “Best of the Best Project” in the national Government/Public Building category. This is the seventh award for Utah’s first Net Zero energy fire station which was built in 2018.

The latest award, which is detailed in the March 23 issue of ENR, is the culmination of a year-long process during which construction experts from ten different regions selected finalists. Those 200 finalists then moved to the national competition and were vetted by a different panel of judges.

Fire Station 14 is believed to be not only Utah’s, but the nation’s, first Net Zero energy fire station. That means it produces as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis.

It’s also expected to become certified as LEED Gold, showing it meets a range of holistic sustainability benchmarks, including material management, waste diversion, water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and more.

The project was recognized last year as the Best Government/Public Building for the Mountain States Region. As a result, it was automatically entered into ENR’s national “Best of the Best” Competition. Representatives from Zwick, the general contractor, anticipate accepting the award as a representation of the collaboration between the architects, Blalock & Partners, Salt Lake City (Engineering/Fire Dept.), and themselves.

Fire Station 14, near California Ave. and 3800 West, and Fire Station 3, in Sugar House, are both Net Zero and were opened within months of each other in 2018.

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