I’ve stared at this screen numerous times in the past couple of weeks. A mental purge has been long overdue but I couldn’t find the words. Each morning, tidal waves of news stories wash over me. The one, as of late, that has particularly broken me to pieces is where mothers have to choose which child to feed amidst famine. Climate change is taxing fresh water reserves all around the world, resulting in drought which leads to famine. It’s hard to not close the screen without eyes pregnant with tears. You can be a hermit and still be aware of the dire state the world is in.
Hearing about the tragedies that go on in the world is hard, some days it’s almost overwhelming. While it seems easier to retreat into ignorant bliss, that approach serves no one – not you, nor those living nightmares as reality. I’ve realized that, though my family is by no means wealthy, I am living a privileged life. And if you have a roof over your head, three square meals a day, and wi-fi to connect the device you’re reading this post on, you are too. With the privilege comes responsibility. Because there is a very thin line that separates us all from misfortune. This comic explains the origins of the civil war in Syria… all because of water shortage. It makes me think that if it can happen there, it can happen here.There is a very thin line that separates us all from misfortune. Click To Tweet
While there may not be much we, as individuals, can do to solve the global water crisis; small acts, collectively, can make a big impact. I say start small because it allows the ultimate goal seem more attainable. And since the average person can’t exactly solve climate change, we (at the very least) can do our best to limit our contribution.
So what can be done?
The easiest thing we can do is examine our own lives and eliminate or reduce actions that are burdensome to the Earth. We can trade in our toxic house cleaners for biodegradable ones. Use canvas bags and mesh reusable produce bags in place of plastic. We can also be mindful of our thermostat. Reducing your thermostat 3 degrees down in the winter and 3 degrees up in the summer will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1050 pounds a year.
But the biggest opportunity to make the biggest impact comes three times a day: via what we eat. Not only does our diet influence our health, but it also impacts the health of those in third world countries and the environment. How? Because animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to climate change. According to the UN, it is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions – more than the whole transportation sector combined.
To put things in perspective:
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
- 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
- 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
- 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
- Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
source and citations can be found here.
Currently, the world produces enough food crops to feed 10 billion people. But 50% of the grain is fed to livestock raised for food which in turn feed significantly less people than the crops would directly. To add insult to injury, 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries. If that doesn’t scream privilege to you, then I don’t know what will. Not to mention the suffering animals raised for agriculture endure, but that’s a whole other post.
Make small changes.
I’m not saying quit meat cold turkey
(ideally, I am) and go vegan (but if you’re up to it, I will be your biggest cheerleader!). I understand that the subject of food is intimate to some people and in some places in the world, a vegan diet is absolutely not feasible (cold weather climates). But if the world, collectively, decreases our meat intake – it can significantly reduce the strain the animal industry puts on our resources and the planet. Join the “Meat-free Mondays” movement then make your way to two days a week without meat. Given that cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day, reducing your meat intake will make huge impacts. Methane emission reduction would produce tangible benefits almost immediately. And who doesn’t want to make their home better?
Once upon a time, I once said “I could NEVER go vegan” or even eat a meal without meat. I associated vegan/vegetarian food with rabbit food and thought no way. Fortunately, innovations in plant’based foods have come a long way. Take a peek at some of my favorite vegan food Instagram accounts and see how easily and deliciously eating vegan can be:
If you’re like me, you love this planet we call home. There is nothing I would do to play my part in ensuring a quality world to live in for my little boy, your children, and the future generations. I hope the thoughts reflected on this post resonates with you and inspires you to take action. It may seem like little acts but that brings up one of my favorite quotes:
When many little people, in many little places, do many little things, the whole world changes.