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The Big Green Purse! AKA The Sustainable Shopping Bible Pt. 4/4

Pt. 4 - Sustainable Food Shopping, and Other Notes


  • Styrofoam used to store food (i.e restaurant leftovers) can't be recycled or reused after its been tainted by food or coffee. It is also classified as a possible carcinogen by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
  • The EPA cautions everyone (especially kids and pregnant women) against eating tuna, due to contamination from mercury that precipitates out of air pollution generated by industrial smokestacks
  • Avoid American BEEF - the European Union officially does not accept meat from the US because of large amounts of growth hormonoes used in the cattle
  • Choosing Sustainable Seafood
    • Shop for seafood sold under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label - certifies those fish come from sustainable sources
    • Avoid large predator fish when dining out (i.e. shark, tuna, swordfish) bc they play a critical role in marine ecosystems, and also concentrate the most toxins. Therefore best to pick smaller fish i.e. tilapia


  • Rainforests - Disappearing at a rate of 6 soccer fields a minute
  • 40% of Central American rainforests have been converted into pastures for beef production, 90% of which is exported to the U.S. primarily for use in the fast food market or pet food.
  • Chapter 6 focuses on ways to trim meat from your diet as a way of protecting rainforests from the grazing that leads to their destruction
  • According to Environmental Defense, the burning of tropical forests accounts for at least 10% of the greenhouse effect Forests in North America
  • According to the Center for a New American Dream, U.S. paper consumption is the world's highest, devouring 12,340 sq miles of forests each year.
  • Saving paper o The Center for a New American Dream estimates that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, and 380 gallons of oil
  • According to a U of Washington study, women are more susceptible than men to air pollution and the heart problems it causes bc among other reasons, our blood vessels are smaller.

Air Pollution

  • Everyone is susceptible to asthma from air pollution (I have asthma so this is a big issue for me)
  • Environmental Protection Agency: we all may suffer as many as 554,000 asthma attacks each year bc of air pollution

Remember: The Big Green Purse Shopping Principles:

1. Buy less 2. Read the label 3. Support sustainable standards 4. Look for third-party verification 5. Choose fewer ingredients 6. Pick less packaging 7. Buy local

As a supplement to these notes, please visit for a guide on smart environmental shopping choices.

Trouble in the Forest

A just published report from Greenpeace warns against a potential "carbon bomb" that could detonate through the over logging of Canada's Boreal Forests.

As the largest terrestrial biome, the boreal-taiga is particularly sensitive due to harsh climactic conditions and poor soil that prevail over its huge land area. This leads to stunted growth towards the tree line at its northern boundary, but also mixed forests towards the south. It is also largely unprotected, with more than 50 per cent allocated to logging in the form of clear cuts.

Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network, Forest Ethics, and local organization such as Earthroots have alternatively taken on Macmillan-Bloedel (now owned by Weyerhaeuser), Kimberley-Clark, Staples, and other companies that use boreal-derived products with some success. Staples has gone from being a laggard, to a company that earns respectable grades for its use of recycled products. However, with strong demand for their products, the timber industry still has a long way to go in ensuring a sustainable harvest. The Greenpeace report further raises the alarm over Canada's overall forest policy, and the potential dangers of tampering with an often forgotten, but vital biome.