Living Green at Home

Sunday, April 12, 2020 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

As we settle into the routine of online classes and distance learning at Brentwood, students, staff, and families may be looking for ways to stay connected to others, and to the programs and values that direct life when we are on campus. With this in mind, the Brentwood Environmental Action Team has come up with a few easy ways to be environmentally conscious during this time of physical distancing. While I might not be there in person to remind you constantly to “Sort your waste!”, as BEAT Captain, I am determined to continue to provide you inspiration and guidance to help you live greener at home.

One of the easiest things you can do is get to know the waste sorting systems wherever you are. These vary greatly from country to country, and even between cities, and it is crucial to the effectiveness of these systems that they are being used correctly. At the beginning of the year at Brentwood, the BEAT took time to educate everyone about the recycling, compost, and garbage disposal systems on Vancouver Island, so I encourage you now to do the same for wherever you live. Waste sorting systems can look a lot different depending where you are in the world, so I encourage you to make the effort to take a little bit of time and educate yourself, to ensure you are using your city’s system properly.

Secondly, a great thing to do is plant a garden! Not only is gardening a fun hobby, but you can grow delicious food, and help support your local pollinator species. If you have limited space, try growing things in hanging pots, or experiment with vertical growing systems. Both of these take very little space, but can produce a lot of food. If you want to grow flowers, think about planting ones that are pollinator friendly, such as calendula, cornflowers, cosmos, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias, to list a few. Some flowers, like nasturtiums and calendula, have edible petals and can be used to decorate anything from salads to desserts! There are also lots of vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow and that can be planted now, including lettuce, spinach, kale, and other greens, peas, carrots, radishes, parsnips, green onions, mint, chives, parsely, basil, and chives.  In the school garden, the work done by students before Spring Break is paying off, and the garlic and lettuce that we planted are growing very well, while other seedlings are taking off in the greenhouse.

My last suggestion is to experiment with eating a low-meat, vegetarian or even vegan diet. This can have a huge positive impact on the environment, and what better time to try it out than when you have access to your own kitchen? Ethical issues aside, animal agriculture is one of the top sources of global greenhouse gas emissions, producing more atmospheric CO2 per year than the world’s entire transportation sector, including all trains, cars, trucks, boats, and planes combined.  Raising animals - particularly cattle - for human consumption also uses a colossal amount of resources like land, oil, and water, to produce far less food than if those resources were put towards growing plants. Even if you choose not to make a full shift to eating vegan or vegetarian, any degree of reduction in the amount of meat and animal products you consume helps!

Finally, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” So when you can, take the opportunity to go outside, and stay connected to nature.

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

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