I’ve had some discouraging times during the last few years where it felt like my efforts towards encouraging veganism and sustainability efforts have made very little impact. I stopped drawing for awhile, and writing. When things matter so much to you, but you see your dog’s instagram get more notice, it can be demoralizing!
I did have something extremely positive happen that I’ll share. When my youngest son started middle school, I was able to work from home and had some ideas of creating an Eco club at his school. I imagined having an after school group with amazing kids wanting to make a difference in their school and families. I talked to the Principal, Sun coordinator, art teacher and science teacher. I created a t-shirt design and monthly project plan. Then I tried to find someone to do the project with me. And I tried to find kids who would be interested. Not even my own son and his friends wanted to do it.
The next year I talked to the interim Principal, it wasn’t a big priority to her understandably. I wasn’t clear on my vision or next steps. And then this last year, I tried once again (a little sheepishly) with the new Principal and the Green team Science teacher. This time though, I had a plan. It wasn’t as exciting or fun as I initially imagined with kids being involved. But, it had solid actionable ideas and a plan. And this time, progress was made.
A lot of this was due to connecting with Eco School Network. A local organization founded by the Center for Earth Leadership to create change leaders in the community by providing them a community of parents, tools, resources and training. Jeanne Roy and her team led the course which took place over 4 evenings, with about 18 parents. Every meeting was very organized and gave us an opportunity to learn and ask questions. We had a mentor to check in with, and a partner as well.
The other parents inspired me, while at the same time I realized some of the reasons that I wasn’t succeeding. I was the only parent attending from a Middle School. Elementary school parents tend to be more involved in volunteering. Middle School parents are less likely to even enter the school and many have gone back to work full-time, or burned out on volunteering by that point. Also Middle School is only 3 years here, so there is less time. At my son’s Elementary school he was there 7 years (one year was preK) and I walked him into that building and hung our often after school on the playground.
We chose goals as part of the training, and I picked the simplest one: renewing the Oregon Green School certification that had lapsed 3 years ago. As part of the application, we would stop using single-use plastic silverware. A secondary goal was composting, although that sounded more complicated.
It sounds small, but when I thought about how all that plastic was being thrown away every single day for the last 2.5 years while I dithered about what to do, it seemed critical not to lose another moment. Composting was needed as during one single lunch observation, I saw kids throwing away multiple pieces of whole, unpeeled fruit into the garbage.
We now have collected over 800 forks and spoons (most of those actually donated from the Eco Network), ordered compost bags and bins, conducted a waste audit, and have the 8th grade science team creating training materials for all the students to follow.
I realized all it really takes is one person to start a ripple effect. There are others who can help you and make this happen such as:
Our amazing green team science teacher who had accomplished the initial Oregon Green School certification
Supportive Principal, cafeteria and custodial staff.
PPS’ Americorps volunteer
Parents and kids who donated silverware and made posters
The amazing local Eco School Network who answered every question and even supplied silverware when we came up short.
My biggest concern now is finding parents to take over the green school efforts, and hopefully do even bigger and better ideas. I want to take this experience and keep doing what I can, no matter how small it seems, to create a better world for the kids and the animals. As one of my favorite inspirational people, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.”
Two weeks ago our family had a scare. My 70 year old dad went to the hospital with chest pains. Luckily he listened to his body, or he very likely would not be here today since he had suffered a heart attack. He had the injection dye test to show that two of his arteries were almost completely blocked, with a third artery 67% blocked.
The hospital put in stents for the arteries that were over 90% blocked. It wasn’t a very invasive surgery as they go through the wrist and avoided needing to do a double bypass once they checked everything out closer. He will need to go back within a few weeks and have the third artery done with another 3 day stay in the hospital. He will need to be on blood thinners and medications for at least a year. The cost for his first month was almost $500.
I went to spend time with him and my family during this scary time. It was a very special visit. I felt like my dad was more present than he had been in years. We had really good conversations. He wants to have a healthier life style going forward since he did get a second chance. I sincerely hope that will continue. It was very depressing to be in the ICU and see all the very ill people lying in the beds surrounded by machines.
Did you know that heart disease, the number one killer, is preventable or reversible with a plant-based diet? It would be a much cheaper and easier way to avoid costly surgeries and pharmaceuticals. YET, when I visited my dad in the hospital his menu choices for cardiac care had only one plant-based entrée, and for breakfast they had given him an egg, cheese and ham breakfast sandwich! I looked around the hospital cafeteria myself at Overlake Bellevue Hospital and there were very few plant-based options for anyone. Even the quinoa salad I chose from the salad bar had mayo in it to my surprise. You might think this menu looks healthy, but what this tells the heart patient is: you can have steak, pork, meatloaf and more. He tried to order the side of roasted vegetable with mushroom gravy. The cafeteria advised him to have beef gravy instead (I assume this is because of sodium content). The super food vegetable stir fry is the best option but who will want to order that for lunch and dinner for several days?
In general, this experience really made me think about the way our society and medical treatment functions. Is it easier for the doctors to “fix” people rather than encourage patients to be more proactive about their health? Just eat what you want, get a stent, and carry on? It’s a big gamble since the first heart attack could kill you. The solution is so simple yet there are large industries who do not want us to reject their main commodities. I’ll include processed food and sugar in with dairy and factory farm meat.
I started my 30 day challenge almost 6 years ago after watching Forks over Knives. Even if you don’t think you care about animals or the environment, think about the health aspects and what you can have control over in your life. NutritionFacts.org is a great source of scientific, peer-reviewed nutrition and health info. Dr. Michael Greger, the doctor who created the Nutrition Facts website and wrote the best selling book “How Not to Die” offers compelling facts. I’ve ordered the cookbook for my dad and will be reviewing that shortly!
As for my dad, he is feeling so much better now that his blood flow to his heart had improved. We feel extremely lucky that he was able to celebrate his 71st birthday and continue to be there for his family and to enjoy his retirement life!
That was pretty much a rhetorical question. Especially if you are feeding a family and can’t just resort to eating some cereal or going out whenever you don’t feel in the mood. Those darn kids are always wanting to eat!
I try a lot of new recipes every week and only post a small fraction of them on the blog. I feel like every other day (and sometimes every day) we are running to the grocery store to buy ingredients for dinner. While we are there we purchase a few other items that we don’t really need. In addition to the extra cost and time, I didn’t feel like we always ate the healthiest meals. So, this year we are going to make a commitment to meal planning. I have tried them off and on in the past but not consistently. I’ll be reporting here on the results. I’ve been following Lindsey at Happy Herbivore for years and appreciate her overall approach and the focus on the health/weight loss component to her meals. She doesn’t use oil, which is something we tend to do. A lot of people think that eating plant-based will naturally result in weight loss, but that hasn’t been the case for me.
For this week, we are starting a bit late, but since we work from home and have teenagers, we can probably go through a week’s worth of food in 5 days! We spent about $70 for the week (we had some ingredients on hand).
I can’t post her recipes here, but you can check it out yourself, and even download a sample plan here. Also, she has a special discount right now if you join which saves 22% and has a 30 day guarantee. This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to share this information with you all. Please let me know if you will be joining me in a more organized, money saving, healthy 2018!
Well, hello. This year, my only big goal is to be more positive and optimistic. There was too much pessimism, depression and negativity last year. It kept me down personally and I felt very unmotivated. I pretty much stopped writing here. This year, I am not going to follow the news every hour. I don’t need to be on the internet in general as much. I think I have moved to acceptance that many things just aren’t going to go well. All I can do is my best within my own sphere.
For this month, I will once again recommend trying a month of plant-based eating. A great pledge to make with a lot of support is Veganuary. I would love to hear your experience with it personally, I have heard great things.
I’ve decided to cut back on sugar this month, I ate enough sweets and chocolate in December for two months at least! I’ll post the food I make here, and you can follow along on Facebook or Instagram for the food illustrations.