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When we consider how to cut down on waste and lower our personal environmental impact, evaluating our grocery-shopping habits plays an important role.

A whopping 30-40% of all food in the United States is wasted each year, a considerable portion of which is connected with grocery retail. According to the EPA, food containers and packaging account for 23% of landfill waste, and grocery stores have been found responsible for 10% of all U.S. food waste. Grocery shopping also represents a considerable source of spending: the average American multi-person household spends an average of $118 a week on groceries.

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It doesn't take much room to grow your own food: a patio, porch, sidewalk, or even a sunny windowsill will do the trick. Container gardening, a practice adopted by many urban growers, provides you the pleasure of gardening with a fraction of the space.

Growing a few vegetables that you buy regularly – whether that be lettuce, tomatoes, peas, or even potatoes – may seem insignificant, but can save you money, cut down on single-use plastic, and lower the environmental impact of what's on your plate.

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While solar energy has plenty of benefits, there are also high upfront costs associated with installing a home renewable energy system. So, at the end of the day, are solar panels worth it?

If you want to minimize your ecological impact while reducing or even eliminating monthly utility bills, solar panels may be well worth the money. But they may not be the best solution for every home. In this article, we'll review solar panel costs, longevity and return on investment to help you decide whether they're right for you.

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Some food scraps are too tasty to end up in the compost bin; most fruit and vegetable peels, stalks, and greens can be baked, boiled, roasted, and blended for a zero-waste meal.

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The Singapore Flower Dome is an innovative venue with the largest greenhouse in the world with rotating displays of flowers and plants. John S. Lander / LightRocket / Getty Images

In the midst of a massive, global loss of nature, cities around the world are finding ways to protect and expand open spaces and "rewild" their communities.

Between 2001 and 2017, the United States alone lost 24 million acres of natural area – or the equivalent of nine Grand Canyon national parks – largely due to housing sprawl, agriculture, energy development, and other anthropogenic factors, according to a 2019 Reuters report. Every day, 6,000 acres of open space – parks, forests, farms, grasslands, ranches, streams, and rivers – are converted for other uses.

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After a year of learning from behind a screen, it's time for some outdoor play this summer.

It's widely accepted that spending time in nature has unparalleled benefits for children; kids who play outdoors are happier, more attentive, and less anxious than those who spend more time indoors. Being in nature builds confidence and creativity, reduces stress, and teaches responsibility to children – and, that time outdoors can also incorporate educational activities that help children feel excited about science and the wonders of the natural world, instilling in them a lifelong environmental ethic. Hands-on activity and play will teach them about our planet in ways not possible from merely learning in a classroom (or a Zoom screen).

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Flipping the light switch is a great start, but a little more can go a long way for saving energy at home.

The unearthing, processing, transportation, and burning of fracked gas, coal, and crude oil for energy has devastating consequences for ecosystems, human health, and our global climate. With 80% of all energy consumed in the United States coming from fossil fuels, energy use and reduction have real implications for the planet and our personal carbon footprint.

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Coffee has enormous cultural significance. It's a staple of culture, cuisine, and everyday life for people all over the planet. Americans alone consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, and the crop is a highly traded commodity of huge importance to global economies.

These millions of cups aren't without consequence, however. The growing, processing, and transportation of coffee – everything that happens before it's poured into our mugs – have large-scale environmental and social repercussions.

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While tossing orange peels and coffee grounds in the garbage might seem inconsequential, sending food waste to landfills has a real impact on climate change. When trapped without air, decomposing food in landfills produces methane: a greenhouse gas that's at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the short term.

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Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

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Cathy Chapman uses various types of groundcover and native plant species for the backyard of her South Portland home instead of having just a grass lawn. Photographed on June 6, 2018. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald / Getty Images

Americans take great pride in their lawns. A centuries-old practice adopted from Great Britain and Northern France, lawns have become a status symbol; a standard fixture of American communities.

In the United States, more than 40 million acres of land are covered in grass, making it the single largest irrigated crop in the country, requiring more labor, fuel, toxins, and equipment than industrial farming. These vast areas of monoculture (the practice of planting only a single crop) do ultimately have devastating consequences for ecosystem health.

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As the winter weather wanes and we patiently wait for our backyard blossoms to appear, we can look forward to more than just the aesthetic appeal of spring flowers – but also their unexpected uses in the kitchen.

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If you've found yourself in the kitchen more than usual during the past year, you're not alone. About 40% of American adults report that they are cooking more since the coronavirus struck, according to the U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2020 report. Demand for online food content and recipes has soared, and without lengthy commutes or social engagements, many adults have more time to experiment in the kitchen and make more of their own meals.

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