Assignment No. 20: Skip the MEAT.

OCT 15-NOV 14…Skip the MEAT. Beef – it’s not for dinner.

Beginning today, I start a new assignment to go meat free for the next 30 days. I recently discovered that the food service at my son’s school actually encourages students to choose a meatless option on Mondays something that got me thinking. It also brought back some old memories of growing up where I was first introduced to the book Diet for a Small Planet. This 1971 book shed light on meat production and its impact on hunger. It also included hundreds of meat-free recipes. Unfortunately, I don’t recall any of these meals fondly. Accordingly, I do not plan on resurrecting any of the recipes from this book, but I will make a good effort to eat my veggies. It’s Biblical after all. You probably remember how Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were actually healthier after eating a vegetable only diet. I’m not sure what I’ll do with fish, though. Your thoughts are welcome!

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Assignment No. 12: LIGHT RAIL to work.

JUNE 15-JULY 14… LIGHT RAIL to work. “Look Mom, no hands!”

Growing up in a family without a car until my older brother turned 16, I am well accustomed to the “joys” of public transit. Even cross country vacations were taken via Greyhound bus where we learned the very familiar phrase “Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us.” I remember changing buses in the middle of the night at some forlorn station who knows where. Still, we survived! Locally, I remember taking the Bi-State bus to St. Louis countless times as it rattled through the streets of East St. Louis and across the Eads Bridge. My challenge this month is quite easy in comparison – to take light rail to work whenever I don’t have an appointment that would require me to drive. True, there isn’t a station right next to my office and it’s not quite as quick as driving myself, but I’m hoping to find something interesting to do with my time as I leave the driving to others. Any recommendations?

Assignment No. 9: Shop LOCALLY.

MAY 1-30…Shop LOCALLY. What’s the opposite of a big box anyway?

Choosing greener alternatives is important for sustainability but where you shop in many cases is the most important factor. Shopping locally is important for environmental sustainability as well as economic sustainability. When you shop locally you are supporting members of your own community who are also vested in the health and success of the community. You are also travelling less and requiring less things to be shipped meaning less carbon, pollution and traffic congestion. I’ll be looking for locally-owned and operated businesses this month. What is your favorite local store, restaurant or business that you think others should try?

Assignment No. 7: ESSENTIALS-ONLY

APR 1-30…ESSENTIALS-ONLY. I think it was Ben Franklin who famously said “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

I’m not a big consumer – never have been. Either that’s because I have simple needs or it’s the result of my sensible upbringing. In general, I find myself fascinated with the latest gadget or gizmo but I let others be the early adopters. After all, they’ll have a newer model out in a few months and to purchase it now would be such a waste, right? When I do buy, I tend to spend more for lasting quality. Even with my no frills lifestyle, I bet I buy more than I think. At least that’s the thought behind this month’s assignment. Discretionary spending is out, control is in. Why spend beyond your means, when others don’t even have life’s essentials? Did you know that nearly 10% of the US population lives below the poverty line? What do you think you could get by without this month?

Assignment No. 3: TRASH pick-up

FEB 1-29…TRASH pick-up. I grew up in the 1970’s and remember recycling tin cans (not aluminum), paper and glass jars and bottles. I also grew up through the Boy Scouts and developed an appreciation of God’s created wonders. For two assignments in a row, it looks likes I’ll be braving the cold. I guess that’s what happens when you trust a computer.

More than four decades ago, the Ad Council partnered with Keep America Beautiful to create a powerful visual image that dramatized how litter and other forms of pollution were hurting the environment, and how every individual has the responsibility to help protect it. The ad, which featured Native American actor Iron Eyes Cody, “The Crying Indian,” first aired on Earth Day in 1971. The campaign used the line, “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” The ad became one of the most memorable and successful campaigns in advertising history.