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Los Altos High School senior publishes plant-based cookbook

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Courtesy of Margaret Capetz
Los Altos High School senior Margaret Capetz’s newly published online cookbook features plant-based recipes.

Combining her passions for cooking and environmentalism, Los Altos High School senior Margaret Capetz recently published an online cookbook.

The Los Altos resident released the free book, “Carbon Conscious Cooking,” Oct. 18.

“Last year, I went to a climate strike in San Jose, and I was truly inspired and I learned about the urgency of environmentalism,” Capetz said in a phone interview. “Over the past year through (participating) in the Green Team, I’ve been able to contribute to sustainability through so many ways.”

Capetz dedicated her book to the Green Team, an environmental club at Los Altos High that spurred her eco-friendly lifestyle journey. She joined her junior year.

“I wasn’t really passionate about environmentalism or sustainability until about a year ago,” she said. “(In the) Green Team I found so many avenues to connect with other activists ... and so they have inspired me to create (this cookbook).”

The recipes in the book are divided into appetizers, main courses and extras. All recipes are plant-based and include their carbon footprint.

“(The) carbon footprint is basically the carbon emissions from producing (an) ingredient,” Capetz said. “In (the charts I’ve included), they measure the carbon emissions by the kilogram.”

She came up with the idea for the book in April, when she began cooking frequently as a way to relieve stress during quarantine. She started rewriting the recipes she learned on Medium, a blogging platform, and then thought of compiling the recipes into a cookbook.

Capetz wrote drafts of other components of the book, such as the introduction, and solicited feedback from her family and the community. To create the formatting, she used Adobe InDesign – a new experience for Capetz.

In addition, she sent out cold emails to possible endorsers, including environmental activist Bill McKibben.

“He is a very impressive person and I’m really inspired by him,” Capetz said of McKibben, who wrote a positive review of her book. “When I reached out to him, I never expected he would reply, but he did.”

To publish the book, Capetz wanted to use a platform from a company with ethics that aligned with hers. She chose Paperturn over Kindle Direct Publishing, which is part of Amazon.

“Although Amazon has quite a few sustainability campaigns and initiatives, I actually read in an article that within the past year, their carbon emissions have increased by 15%,” she said. “I feel like if I did publish through KDP, it would not have aligned with my whole sustainability principle.”

Capetz is offering the book at no charge online to inspire others to become more environmentally conscious through cooking.

“My hope is to demonstrate to people that aligning one’s daily life habits with environmentalism is exciting and empowering,” she said.

To access the cookbook, visit tinyurl.com/y682x7yg.

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