In the wake of yet another alarming climate change report, we are fighting the urge to go down the “there’s nothing left we can do” rabbit hole. In this new special report released by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) there is an urgent message to keep warming below +1.5°C above pre-industrial levels9, which can only be done if the whole world commits to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions significantly right away. Instead of giving up hope, we are focusing on the changes that we are capable of making right here at home to lighten our impact on this extraordinary planet of ours.
Did you know that one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is in fact the food we purchase? I say the food we purchase, not the food we eat, because according to CBC radio 1 “the average Canadian throws out 170 kilograms of food every year” which is about the same as throwing out 25% of the food you purchase in a year. That’s a lot of food. But back to what I was saying about food being one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The industrial food system places huge stresses on the natural environment, through the use and production of fertilizers and pesticides, transportation, mono-cropping, deforestation, processing and the list goes on.
What are we doing about it?
- We buy local, and make it easier for you to do the same. Our mission is to make local food more accessible and convenient for residents and visitors of the Eastern Shore. According to a report done by the Ecology Action Centre in 2010, the average food item travels almost 4000km from its origin before it reaches our plates, and only 13% of our food dollars are being spent locally3. Buying local food reduces the emissions caused by transportation and processing, we also focus on spray free and organic vegetables when possible.
- We are committed to selling ethically raised meat. Grass fed beef4, pasture-raised pork4,5 and free-range chicken5,6 and turkey6, are healthier, more delicious and better for the environment. It’s about quality not quantity.
- We are cutting back on food waste. This year we built a cold storage room which allows us to keep, sell and use higher quality produce for longer, before it is destined for the green bin. This improvement has also allowed us to reduce our kilometers driven by between 40% and 50% each week.
- We are redirecting food scraps. Not all produce can be sold or used up, that’s why we have started donating food waste and scraps to the Musquodoboit Harbour Community Garden for compost, Snowy River Farms to feed the pigs and chickens and we have started our own compost on site at Uprooted. We also give our coffee grounds to a local woman for her compost.
- We refuse to sell bottled water. Our tap water is great for drinking and we encourage people to bring their own bottle to fill at Uprooted. The environmental impact of bottled water is huge, using “up to 2000 times the energy required to produce the equivalent volume of tap water”2.
- Reduce Waste. We encourage customers to bring their own take out containers, and travel mugs by offering a $0.25 discount on food and beverage purchases. We also use paper bags for groceries in order to reduce plastic waste.
- We employ local people which reduces their weekly commute time and environmental footprint, compared to if they were drivingto the city for work.
- Cut back on single use packaging. We have recently installed refill stations for GoodmoreKombucha as well as Down East Cleaning Supplies so you can bring your own container to fill, instead of taking home new packaging every time you buy these products.
What else can we do?
- Energy Reduction. Investing in more energy efficient lighting for Uprooted would help to reduce our current energy consumption. We recently attended a small business presentation by Efficiency Nova Scotia to learn more about how we can be more energy efficient at Uprooted.
- Bicycle Parking. To encourage more people to bike to and around our community, we would like to install parking for bicycles at Uprooted.
- Metal or Paper Straws to replace plastic straws.
- Install gravity-fed bulk food dispensers. So you can buy bulk grains, seeds, popcorn, coffee etc. without having to waste individual packaging each time you need to restock.
- Invest in Renewables. As with most grocery stores and cafes, our fridges and freezers account for a large percentage of our energy usage, we would like to supplement our electricity use with solar.
- Go electric. Currently we are driving a gas-powered vehicle for our produce pickups, we would like to transition to an electric fleet.
- Electric Charging. We would like to set up an electric charging station at Uprooted.
What can you do?
- Eat local and seasonal food. Changing your diet is one of the most powerful choices you can make to reduce your environmental impact, and you get to choose three times a day! A diet rich in unprocessed, unpackaged, seasonal and local food is healthier, more delicious and so much better for our communities and planet.
- Bring a travel mug and takeout containers. We offer $0.25 discount on food and beverage purchases when you bring your own containers.
- Use your Uprooted Canvas Bag. Or any other reusable bag when you go shopping to cut back on single use plastics.
- Be conscious of your meat consumption. Like I said, it’s about quality, not quantity. Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions contributing approximately 14.5% of human caused emissions and is a major cause of deforestation, pollution and biodiversity loss7. Eating local grass-fed and pasture-raised meat is healthier, supports our local economy and ensures that the animals are being treated humanely.
- Walk more. When coming to the Harbour to do your errands, why not try parking in one central location (like the rink or RBC parking lot) and walk around the community to complete your errands? You save gas (and emissions), get a little exercise and fresh air and get to see our great community at a slower pace. Did you know that a lot of the essential services in Musquodoboit Harbour are located within a 0.5km walk of Uprooted? Including the library, convenience store, drug store, brewery, bakery, bank, pharmacy, post office, rink, gym, museums and trail!
- Carpool or take MusGo Rider. Cutting back on driving is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint, next time you have to go to the city, why not try to share a drive with someone else?
Some of these suggestions might feel a little overwhelming, but little by little these things add up to a huge impact. I can’t wait to hear how you all make out, and I’ll keep you posted on our improvements here as well!