Wouldn’t it be great if we all cared about the Earth on the other 364 days a year and not just Earth Day? Well, let’s get started with that today and continue our commitment throughout the entirety of 2022 (and beyond). Here are a few resolutions to implement that will make a meaningful impact beyond Earth Day.
Food Waste – Whenever I see a company or person supporting farmers and ranchers through their words and actions, it warms my heart. Purchasing American products is obviously one way to support our producers but after doing so, let’s make sure not to waste them when we get home. The United States wastes approximately 40% of our food supply.1 That’s like throwing away half of your grocery cart after paying – it’s abysmal. Unfortunately, food waste travels to landfills where it creates greenhouse gases such as methane. In fact, if food waste were its own country, it would be the third largest worldwide producer of methane. That’s a staggering amount of methane released into our environment which no doubt contributes to climate change. Fun fact: beef is one of the least wasted foods so you can rest-assured there’s not much of it sitting in a landfill. We can all reduce our food waste by purchasing/preparing reasonable portions, meal planning using what’s in our pantry and eating leftovers!
It’s Electric! – I am not sure there is a room in my house that doesn’t have some sort appliance or device and sadly, most of them are plugged in all the time. Doing so pulls “phantom energy,” which accounts for nearly 10% of all electric use. I’m going to make an active effort to unplug appliances we don’t use daily (toaster, microwave) as well as office equipment that isn’t used daily like my diffuser, paper shredder and humidifier. Doing so will not only save money on my electric bill but will help reduce the amount of generated electricity, which is dependent on fossil fuels.
Walk it Out (or Bike or Bus) – Living in the country makes it very difficult for us to use mass transportation but I would sure love it if a tram or bus came by my house on regular intervals to take me to run errands in town. When my husband and I travel abroad, we almost always use public transportation because 1) other countries have mastered the logistics, 2) it’s affordable and 3) it’s highly accessible. If only we had it everywhere in the U.S.! But I digress, one way to help lower our climate impact is to simply drive less, carpool or use public transport. When the weather is nice, my oldest daughter and I do our best to stick to this by walking/riding bikes to the local post office, cafe and bank in our town. It would be much easier to drive the two minutes but the two mile roundtrip walk is a great opportunity for bonding, saves gas and gets us out for some exercise. Waiting to run all of our errands on one day, rather than driving to the larger town multiple times is another way to cut back on driving.
Pernicious Plastics – Half of all the plastics ever made were manufactured in the last 15 years and if we continue on this pace, 12 billion tons of plastic waste will exist in the world by 2050.3 It’s drastically harming our oceans and wildlife and we’ve got to do something to stop this pattern. So, in our house, we are actively trying to reduce our use of plastics – we use reusable water bottles, recycle and have also started transitioning to plastic-free products from previously plastic-dependent ones. One huge plastic offender is laundry products like detergent and fabric softener. I discovered these laundry sheets that replace the big jugs of detergent and am looking forward to seeing if they can hold their own against our muddy spring clothes. A few more ways to reduce the dependence of plastics are to use fewer plastic bags for snacks, incorporate reusable grocery shopping bags, buy from the bulk bins when grocery shopping and store products in glass containers and, in line with food waste, throw fewer things in the garbage which equates to fewer plastic trash bags.
I know I beat this like a dead horse but it bears repeating – cattle, livestock and meat are not a major contributor to GHG emissions. Honestly, efforts to mitigate our climate effort simply by eating one less pork chop per week are laughable. The EPA has said, multiple times, that cattle are responsible for 3% of US GHG emissions and agriculture as a whole is responsible for just 11%2. In my opinion, that is a nominal amount for an industry that provides food, fuel and fiber for our nation. In no way is it believable to suggest that cutting back on 1-2 meat meals per week is going to offset our excessive use of fossil-fueled transportation, dependence on plastics and embarrassing amount of food waste. Did you know that grazing cattle on pastures captures and stores so much carbon, it’s the equivalent of taking 6 BILLION CARS off the road each year!? Reducing meat consumption could actually be more harmful to our environment when you consider carbon sequestration.
I hope that these tips serve you well in the coming months and years, well beyond Earth Day. Hopefully we can all align on adopting more climate friendly habits that will preserve our Earth for future generations.
Until next time
~ Buzzard ~
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