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    Tuesday, March 21, 2023

    Readers react to My Planet series

    We asked readers to tell us what things -- big or small -- they’ve done to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are some of the responses:

    Here are some of the things I have done in an effort that reduce my and my family's carbon footprint - more or less in time order:

    Improved insulation all over the house - every time something needed to be touched, it was improved

    Replaced oil burning furnace (when it failed) with modern very high efficiency propane system.

    Replaced gas powered mower with electric.

    Replaced gas powered chain saw with electric.

    Acquired electric and manual log splitters.

    Installed wood pellet stoves and wood burning stoves (the latter fed from dead trees on the property).

    Installed a heat pump system to reduce the need to burn anything until it gets very cold.

    Installed a solar system with battery - not nearly large enough, but it makes a substantial difference to the bill.

    Put in a heat pump water heater.

    Replaced the car that is driven most with an electric car (now with close to 60,000 miles and one trip across the US).

    I am not perfect in this effort by any means, but each thing on this list is an investment that has either already paid for itself or will do so within the next few years. Going green is good for the wallet as well as the planet!

    – Ray DiPaola, Pawcatuck

    In May of 2020 my wife died from lung cancer that had spread to other parts of her body. Five weeks later I had a heart attack. After having two stents inserted I was released from the hospital a day early because the nurse said "you're one of the healthiest heart attack patients we've seen." After I got home I began to wonder, if I was so healthy why did I have a heart attack?

    Research led to the Standard American Diet (SAD) is responsible for our country's high rate of early death and disability, but a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) can greatly reduce this risk and actually reverse some of these conditions. The biggest exception is Alzheimers, it can't be reversed but a WFPB diet can reduce the chances of developing it by up to 80%.

    I was glad to see the mention of a plant based diet in the article, but I think it needs to be emphasized much more. I recently purchased several copies of the following books: "FOOD IS CLIMATE," Glen Merzer; and "THE FIBER FILLED COOKBOOK," Will Bulsiewicz.

    PS: During my wife's battle with cancer the only diet/nutrition information she received from any of the 4 specialists she saw was "you may want to drink protein shakes to keep up your strength for your chemo treatments."

    – Tom Harvey

    Indeed, eliminating or at least limiting our personal use of combustion engine automobiles is the second most important step we can take to conserve the planet. (A small sidestep is to read only e-newspapers rather than dead tree editions on newsprint.) But the foremost effective measure we can pursue for planetary preservation is to give birth to only one child. Or in order to compensate for couples who beget three or more children, to beget none. Because a No Child consumes far fewer resources and drives far fewer miles than any One Child.

    – Mark Mathew Braunstein

    I purchased an e-bike last spring and now use it as my primary form of transportation. I have lost weight and only drive my car about once a week. With the use of pannier bags and bungee cords to strap packages onto back, I do most of my shopping with my bike. Anything within 7 miles is an easy trip for me, even in Norwich which is not nearly as bike-friendly as New London is.

    – Linda Theodoru

    Hello, Bridget,

    You are not alone. We are neighbors in thought as well as geography, and I want to reach out a hand, well maybe two. One is the idea of collective courage. Here in Mystic, there is a new organization forming called the Alliance for the Mystic River Watershed. We don’t have a web presence yet, but we are a 501(c)(3) aiming to bring communities together in support of climate-forward learning and planning. You can contact me at maggie@alliancemrw.org. Two is this. I believe that parents can be very effective in support of education as it becomes a source for nature-based intergenerational healing and collaboration. My new book, Learning in the Age of Climate Disasters, just out from Routledge, and #1 New Release in Secondary Education on Amazon, could be the basis for bringing together some neighbors at the Ditty Bag.

    – Margaret Favretti

    Our first major investment was to replace our 32-year-old oil furnace with an air source heat pump. This has the added benefit of cooling our home, as we did not have central air.

    We have had the system for about one full year, and thus have been able to judge its performance in temperatures ranging from single digits to over 90 degrees. It has done very well in our ~1200 sf ranch home.

    Heat pump incentives are about to kick in as a part of the Biden Administration's IRA.

    – Daniel Fancher, Mystic

    Here are a few suggestions that have worked well in my life passed down from my parents who both went through hard times and managed to feed, clothe and shelter their large family. Some of the things they did was:

    1) Dad’s garden was the best. It yielded green beans, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, squashes, peas, beets, cabbage and potatoes.

    2) Mom canned fruits and vegetables during the fall harvest.

    3) Hand me down clothes were a norm. She was a clever woman who made sure our clothes were clean and mended.

    4) Mom made our school lunches. She wrapped the sandwiches in waxed paper, included was a piece of fruit and a sweet treat. All were then placed in a “lunch box”

    4) Mom made meals that went a long way. Stews, soups, chilis, sauce and pasta, mac and cheese, meatloaf, open face sandwiches made from Sunday’s roast beef or chicken.

    My parents never complained about the things they couldn’t afford. They made due with what they had.

    I thank them for the examples they set.

    Here’s some ideas that I found helpful:

    Stretch a meal two different ways — chicken stew one day, chicken pot pie the next. Roast beef one day and open face sandwiches the next.

    Prepare whole healthy meals instead of buying pre-packaged, chemically loaded foods.

    Make a weekly menu, then make up a grocery list with the ingredients needed to prepare weekly meals.

    Go through the pantry to make sure you aren’t duplicating groceries that are not needed.

    Buy the quantity needed to prepare meals – it’s easy to buy a “little extra,” but that usually ends up in the compost.

    Know what the expiration dates are so you prepare meals within that time frame.

    Don’t throw out the leftovers but instead reheat, freeze or create another meal from the leftovers.

    Salads, vegetables and less meat is a healthier way to eat.

    Buying organic products grown locally rather than mass produced produce and meats.

    Use reusable grocery bags.

    Instead of buying small bottles of water, think about a water cooler. You can also buy a water purifiers for tap water and fill up those reusable water bottles. If you have well water, even better.

    – George Tryon

    We shop at the Ditty Bag and are doing several things mentioned in the article.

    A big change that my wife started has resulted in a substantial reduction in plastic waste and has been completely painless. We simply buy eggs and milk in cardboard containers rather than plastic. Easy!

    – John Ehlers

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