Happy Earth Day!
In honor of our beautiful Mother Earth, I’m sharing some changes we can make to lessen our impact on the environment and help ensure that our earth is as beautiful for our children as it was for our parents.
It’s no secret that real, devastating change is happening to our environment right before our eyes. Even before the terrifying California drought caught significant media attention, there were very scary things happening due to human impact on our planet. The Colorado River has been drying up at a depressing rate, the rising sea temps are having huge impacts all over the globe, species are going extinct at record rates, and a large part of the Amazon rainforest has been completely decimated.
Don’t lose hope. You can make a difference. Every little bit counts.
So what’s the single most eco-friendly change you can make?
Eat More Plants.
The most impactful change you can ever make is changing your diet. Even if you never drove your car again, took only 60-second showers, and lived in one of those tiny solar-powered carbon-neutral houses in the middle of the forest, all of that would still not add up to the impact you can make by replacing animal foods with plant foods in your diet.
It’s pretty simple: eating lower on the food chain is more sustainable. Rather than growing loads of plants (and using land + insane amounts of water to do so) to fatten up animals and then slaughter and process those animals, why not just eat the plants to begin with?
Eating meat is an incredibly inefficient means to obtain energy.
Here are some facts & figures on agricultural impact on the environment:
- 1/3 of the planet’s water use is for animal agriculture
- Water footprint per gram of animal protein is 1.5x that of legumes
- Producing 1 lb of beef requires ~1,800 gallons of water
- Producing 1 lb of wheat requires ~100 gallons of water
- For more: Water footprint of various plant + animal foods
- Cattle grazing is responsible for 80% of the deforestation of the Amazon
- Animal agriculture covers 1/3 of the earth’s surface
- Clearing forest to allow cattle to graze releases hundreds of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (second only to fossil fuel use)
- Livestock are responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (fart much?)
- Livestock and poultry farming pollutes our air with allergens, gases, dust, and particles
- Pollution from factory farms threatens public health by spreading deadly disease-causing pathogens
Additionally, another theme you can enact throughout your daily life is becoming a more conscious consumer.
Reduce then reuse & recycle
I think sometimes we forget the first part of this cycle. And it’s in that order for a reason. First, reduce. Reduce what? Reduce your material consumption and anything that comes in packaging. Reduce the new clothes you buy, the electronics, the new whatever because you’re tired of your old one (hint: read my post on how attending a swap is an eco-friendly way to bring new-to-you items into your life). Before you reach for something new, ask yourself if you really need it.
The Earth Day Network provides more tips on lessening your impact on the environment.
How do you sustain an eco-friendly lifestyle? Share with us by commenting on this post.