OPL Spotlight: Lorie Buckingham’s Sustainability Journey Began with a Craving to Learn More

OPL Spotlight: Lorie Buckingham’s Sustainability Journey Began with a Craving to Learn More

“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” advises Lorie Buckingham. “Living sustainably is a journey that will take time.”


Decades before founding One Planet Life, Lorie Buckingham had already embarked on her own sustainability journey. With a background in science, Buckingham became interested in learning more about what harmful additives can be found in our food and environment.

“Majoring in chemistry and learning about the impact of chemicals, I became intrigued,” she said. “I started wondering what really is in my food. That led to being shocked that companies did not have to put ingredients on labels – they could keep the information from you.”

Finding sources of information that were based on facts and could be trusted for their credibility was challenging. Through environmental science classes at Harvard, she learned how to have a keen eye when researching information.

“It’s actually incredibly hard to find what I’ll call trusted resources,” she said. “There’s so much information, and you don’t even know what to trust or not trust. They really helped me understand that I’m not going to find everything I want, but how I could parse through, know what I could trust, and that it was always evolving.”

That experience confirmed the need for continuous learning and establishing a centralized hub for sharing this specialized information with the greater sustainability-focused community.

“That’s part of One Planet Life – I want to keep putting information out there because we don’t know enough, and there are so many false claims,” she said. “Every time I think there’s more qualified information, I’d like us to share it. Knowledge is power.”

Feeding the Family with a Focus on Sustainability.

Buckingham’s journey didn’t solely weave through the pages of scientific study, though – she was moved to take action because of the impact on her everyday life. 

“The moment that brought it home to me was when I had my daughter,” she shared. “When she was little, we realized that when she would eat beef, she would have an incredible allergic reaction. Supposedly, you can’t have an allergic reaction to beef.”

It turned out that her daughter had developed a reaction from excess penicillin that had treated ear infections in her early years. Factory-farmed beef has so much antibiotics in it that it triggered severe allergic reactions in my daughter (and others).

That experience caused a shift in the way Buckingham looked at feeding her family.

“For my family, I really started avoiding anything but the exterior aisles of the grocery store,” she said. “I’m looking for fresh fruit, vegetables, everything fresh. The next thing was local and then, where possible, organic.”

As with building any new habit, it wasn’t always easy.

“It’s not balance; it’s more of riding the wave,” she said. “There were times when I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on it. I’d make strides with what we ate, and it was an easy way to do that because I controlled the shopping. My husband helped with the cooking. The other thing I think you have to do is not force your family. I’m never going to have my kids not eat sugar and not have snack foods. We’re not going to be what I would call a ‘never family.'”

So Buckingham focused mainly on leading by example, and years later, she saw changes that resonated with her family.

“There were a lot of complaints made by my kids because their friend’s house had much ‘cooler’ food,” she said. “But now they both cook. They’re into being healthy. I think when you do things honestly, and you have some type of consistency – even consistency that has its moments when you don’t have it – you do create that ripple effect.”

One Planet Life is born.

When Buckingham decided to take the leap and give life to the idea that’s been on her mind for years, she quickly realized as she started building a team that One Planet Life would be fulfilling a long-awaited need. 

“What I found fascinating is that they were all thinking about journeys but couldn’t say whether they were on a journey,” she said. “Each of them cared about this, wanting to be on a journey, but felt frustrated by what they could and could not do. They’re all living busy lives. This idea of having an app that helps you understand how you’re making a difference really resonated with them.”

The idea of helping individuals find their voice and make a difference has been intentionally built into the foundation of One Planet Life.

“For One Planet Life, maybe that can be the place where we can bring people together who care about these things – all different types of people and start with little steps that are doable but that add up over time,” she said. “I call it the ripple effect. Before you know it, you’ve made some pretty amazing changes in your life that do make a difference in the world and in your life.”

The One Planet Life Team
One Planet Life App
Embarking on a sustainability journey for the first time?

Sometimes, people are just too hard on themselves, Buckingham has come to recognize. Easing into the journey can be a better approach to help make changes stick.

“When you’re starting something out, don’t be afraid to make just one small change; don’t pick the hardest thing, don’t pick ten things, just pick one or two,” she said. “It can be one that you can do and just enjoy it – be happy about it. Just make one change, track it, and enjoy that you’re doing it.”

Accepting that success can often be the result of compounding failures, and it’s also important to grant yourself some grace along the way.

“It’s about doing things that you can have your headspace into,” she said. “If it backfires, then stop and do a different one for a while. Pick out the level of difficulty that you’re ready to take on. People have busy, stressful lives. There’s no need to make this something crazy.”

Everyone is on their own journey. You can’t force it.

“Don’t expect others you live with to do the same,” she said. “Know that they’re on their own timing. They’re going to do their own thing. Honor them to choose when to do things because that also adds stress if you’re trying to do it and you’re trying to make others do it.”

But having support from others going through this journey is also essential. That’s where One Planet Life comes in.

“I’d love to see One Planet Life continue to be this safe place where I can try on my journey, and everybody makes a difference,” she said. “At the same time, we can become a powerful voice making the world better, one person at a time. We do have this ripple effect. There are so many people in the world that are suffering and don’t have the advantages we have. If we could raise our voices and help them – that would be the dream.”

The staff at One Planet Life are serious about sustainable living. That’s why we decided to share the struggles and successes of our individual sustainability journeys. We will share tips from our team members, curated through authentic personal experience. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help foster a community committed to helping each other and the planet!

Veggie-forward Party Menu for 8 People

Veggie-forward Party Menu for 8 People

At our recent OPL Summit, we had a three-course, veggie-forward potluck dinner for eight people, and it was a party for the senses. We used the Planetary Diet as our guide for the party menu and let each amateur chef chose a favorite recipe to share. The EAT-Lancet Commission created the Planetary Diet is an eating approach that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and plant proteins, such as beans and lentils. Meat, dairy, sugar, and starchy vegetables play a minor role on the plate.  To learn more, read our blog, Now is the Time to Adopt the Flexible and Healthy Planetary Diet.

Eight OPL staff members each made a dish, and the resulting Planetary Diet menu was inspiring. Of course, every meal is complemented by great conversation and a pleasing environment, and we had the perfect makings for a memorable dinner party!

OPL Dinner Guests
OPL DInner Spread

As an inspiration for your next gathering, we are happy to share our One Planet Life Summit Veggie-forward Potluck Recipes with you. Below are links to our recipes. We hope you try one, some, or all of these delicious recipes and let us know the result. Please share your stories and pictures with us in the comments section below. Bon appetit!

Mediterranean Pinwheels

Mediterranean Pinwheels

Mediterranean Pinwheels are an easy-to-make and delicious appetizer. Serve them at home or take them to your next potluck party.

Shane Crab Cakes

Shane's Crab Cakes with Capers and Cilantro

These crab cakes are mouth-watering delicious and fit into the Planetary Diet that’s good for you and the planet.

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

This dish is so flavorful you may find you like this vegetarian eggplant parmesan version better than the traditional recipe.

Kale Walnut Salad

Surprisingly Delicious Kale Walnut Salad

When you mix kale, apples, cranberries, and walnuts together you get a surprisingly delicious, double-helping worthy salad.

Spicy Corn Salad

Easy Spicy Corn Salad with Queso Fresco

This spicy corn salad with queso fresco is a perfect weeknight side dish. It is easy and adds just enough kick to enhance your meal.

Southern Broccoli Salad

Family Secret Southern Broccoli Salad

This southern broccoli salad has the perfect combination of flavor and crunch to be the meal or complement to an entree.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It’s dessert and vegetables at the same time! This chocolate zucchini cake is moist and delicious and perfect for any occasion.

famous banana pudding

Magnolia Bakery's Famous Banana Pudding

This recipe for famous banana pudding is from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. It’s a sweet and satisfying dessert.

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

A Plant-rich Diet is Good for You and the Planet

A Plant-rich Diet is Good for You and the Planet

Changing to a plant-rich diet can change you and the planet for the better!

Did you know that our eating habits are increasing greenhouse gases and harming our health? You hold the key. It is time to open this door. Changing to a plant-rich diet can change you and the planet for the better! Yes, nourishing ourselves with plants can change everything.

The Western diet comes with a steep climate price tag.

The Western diet comes with a steep climate price tag. The most conservative estimates suggest that raising livestock accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global greenhouse gases emitted each year; the most comprehensive assessment of direct and indirect emissions say more than 50 percent.” #1

At the same time overconsumption of animal protein also comes at a steep cost to human costs. On average a person requires 50 grams of protein a day. A plant meal can contain the protein we need. Many in the United States eat more than 90 grams of protein per day. This overconsumption goes hand in hand with health problems.

What would be the benefits if the world changed to a plant-rich diet?

Studies have shown that if 70% of the people adopted a vegan diet and 63% adopted a vegetarian diet (includes cheese, milk, and eggs) the combined impact would be huge! There would be a 70% reduction in emissions. That means if we take the low end of the current emissions above at 15% it would be reduced to 3.75%. The models show that it would also reduce global mortality by 6-10%. This reduction in emissions would save lives and reduce medical costs. Wow, this is definitely worth the changes. #1

What is a good planetary diet?

Well the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brought scientists together from around the world and asked the question: “Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?” The answer is yes! We can! To do this, we need to move to a healthy eating approach which is symbolized by a plate that is half full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The other half contains whole grains, plant proteins (beans, lentils, etc.), unsaturated plant oils, and modest amounts of meat, dairy, sugars, and starchy vegetables. (eatforum.org>eat-lancet-commission). It is very different from our food consumption today and will require us to make a series of changes.


Five things you can do to reduce your footprint and increase your wellness.
  1. Eat more vegetarian meals. To help, we shared two fabulous vegetarian cookbooks: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and The Modern Cooks Year by Anna Jones. 
  2. Shop local farms and farmers’ markets.
  3. Enjoy nature and support it: walk in parks or forest, grow trees and native plants (or support organizations doing so).
  4. Reduce waste, especially plastic: reusable bags, straws, recycle, and compost.
  5. Reduce driving/flying and increase walking and biking.

#1 Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Edited by Paul Hawken; section Food, page 39.

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