World Environment Day

By Aronya Waller

World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on June 5 since 1974. The United Nations created it to address the most critical environmental issues affecting the world. This year’s theme is Ecosystem Restoration. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it.” 

Ecosystem restoration is a part of sustainability. You may have heard of sustainability or living a sustainable life within the past couple of years, but what is it? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines sustainability as:

Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.

For many people, sustainability means finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint. It is about finding ways to prevent climate change, global warming, and the depletion of our natural resources. At the crux of the matter is how we will leave the world for our children and grandchildren.

Sustainability seems to be the new trend for businesses in industries varying from cookware and home design to fashion and makeup. In my search for ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle, I noticed two recurring things. First, they came from a similar mainstream white perspective. Second, they promoted things that my family had done for years. Yet, BIPOC cultures once again have not received the credit for practicing sustainability for ages. Some of the options promoted, however, were much more expensive than what I grew up with. The choice to live a sustainable lifestyle for our communities was not always a choice. It was more out of a need. Although the term sustainability may be new for many people, BIPOC ancestors passed down this lifestyle for many generations. 

Rebeca Cintrón-Loáisiga, Veggie Mijas Philadelphia Organizer, shared a similar belief. She explained that what is now known as sustainability had much more to do with poverty than anything else when she was growing up. Now, living a sustainable lifestyle as an adult is second nature. “It was common knowledge to save our plastic containers for whatever leftovers we were fortunate to have,” Rebeca explained. “Now that I have my own home and family, I maintain what my mother instilled in me…with a few of my own additions,” I asked Rebeca, and other Veggie Mijas’ team members, about those additions. You may quickly realize that living sustainably does not mean that you must participate in living an expensive lifestyle. You may see that sustainability is more about living a resourceful life that happens to be an environmentally-friendly life. Compare their suggestions with the ways you grew up, and then see what you can add to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

We asked a few of our collective members how they practice sustainability at home. Here are some of their tips that can help guide us into a greener world. There are several small things that you can do to protect our world by living a more sustainable lifestyle. Please share with us how you are committed to living more sustainably. Comment on our Instagram post (@veggiemijas) or tag us with your pictures. Use the hashtags #veggiemijas, #veggiemijxs, #worldenvironmentday, and #generationrestoration. 

Estefania Orozco, Coordinator

Some of the main ways I practice sustainability include using a stainless-steel reusable water bottle, reusable bags for food shopping, and buying tea in bulk. I use a menstrual cup, and I have a reusable razor that I have used for years. While living in Spain, I take the metro. I also try to practice sustainability with my fashion. I have a thrifted shirt and shoes, pants from a clothing swap with friends, and my reusable Veggie Mijas Tote in this outfit.

Destiny DeJesus, Coordinator

I never go to the supermarket without a reusable bag. There is no reason to use those little plastic bags for produce. You can easily throw them on the belt when you are going to checkout and place them in a reusable tote bag to carry home. I save every single jar or glass container I buy, such as pasta sauce and salsa jars. I use them to propagate plants, regrow herbs, and store leftovers. We do not use lights in the house until the sun goes down. Luckily, we have lots of natural lighting. It saves us money off our electric bill and is eco-friendly.

Rebeca Cintrón-Loáisiga, Philadelphia Organizer

We practice sustainability in a variety of ways in our house! We use metal straws, silicone/freezer bags, glass containers, and reuse plastic containers. For food, we grow our veggies, or we buy some at local gardens and farms. We even use toothpaste tablets! When it comes to clothing, I go to thrift stores and prefer to rent formal outfits. I also like to incorporate sustainability in my feminine products by using cloth menstrual pads and a menstrual cup. 

To learn more ways on how to be an ally to our earth, check out Constant Delight's article on how to grow your own vegetables!

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