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The Green Life: Can PB&J Save the World?

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March 31, 2011

Can PB&J Save the World?

PB&J If your climate-change solution isn't delicious, consider that this Saturday is Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Day. And while no one really knows how the silly sandwich got its own day, the PB&J Campaign adopted the occasion to highlight a tasty way to cut back the carbon.

Bernard Brown, who founded the PB&J Campaign in 2007, said, "PB&J is a great mascot. 'Tofu Campaign' wouldn't have quite the same ring. It's just one example of how we can all make a difference at lunch." The campaign's message is as clear as a clean jar of jelly: Plant-based meals are better for the planet.

Take a look at the numbers. Bypassing a ham, tuna, or cheese sandwich in favor of a plant-based lunch saves about 2.5 pounds of carbon emissions, or about 40% of the air pollution you'd save driving for a day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan. It also saves about 133 gallons of water.

A key component of the campaign is the encouragement of, instead of the discouragement of, certain meal choices. Food can be a sensitive topic. Since peanut butter and jelly happens to be one of those sandwiches that every American enjoys, the message resonates with vegans and meat eaters.

The campaign has gained some visibility since we spoke with Brown last year. "We've seen a lot of great online coverage and some fun broadcast media coverage," he said. "We made it onto NBC Nightly News. Apparently, Brian Williams really loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But more importantly, the idea of eating lower on the food chain has been gaining traction. The PB&J Campaign can't claim all the credit for this, but I think along with other voices — Meatless Monday, Michael Pollan, James McWilliams, Mark Bittman — we've been making a difference," he said.

On Saturday, Brown will be at the Whole Foods Market Callowhill in Philadelphia. PB&J Campaign volunteers will be at other Whole Foods stores in Southern California. The PB&J Campaign is supported by Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs.

--Brian Foley

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