The Planet, you and I…
According to the wikipedia, basic needs of humans are Food, Shelter and Clothing. If you have anything more than these like Sanitation, Education, Healthcare, and Internet consider yourself blessed with luxury that most people only dream of. And as humans if we don’t plan on using those resources without altering the global temperatures then we have got a serious existential problem.
Doesn’t that statement sound familiar? It does right?… But have we ever tried to do something about it daily?
Here’s “How to” we collectively and our actions holistically can do to the Planet and everyone on it. We shall go about three versions of this blog, divided into Food (1), Shelter (2) and Clothing (3) affecting the climate and what we can do to reduce that.
I will try to do my best to make you believe in humanity as global population is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, state the facts that we need to remind ourselves and act upon to prevent another large event of extinction of many species by 2050.
Let’s get started with the facts
- ~26% of global greenhouse gas emissions are from the ways practiced by us to produce food, like agriculture, forestry, imports & exports and other land use for livestock.
- As per 2014 studies, livestock alone is the reason for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is equal to all kinds transportation available around the world.
- Cows and Sheep ( also maybe pork) are the major contributors in the livestock category producing 25 times more potent than the CO2, also known as Methane (CH4) excluding all the resources used to raise them.
- We could feed about 3.5 billion population if all the grain used to raise the livestock is directly consumed by us, cutting down a lot of gases like CO2 and CH4. Though there are few farmers trying to decrease the carbon footprint in this process, that’s significantly lower than what’s required.
- Doctors usually recommend 25% less the amount of meat consumed by an average being, and if we really followed that, then we could cut down the emissions of greenhouse gases by half and we are indeed listening to them.
- Just in the last decade the amount of beef consumed has reduced to ~21%, didn’t that put a smile on your face?
- Sad, but the size of our plates and refrigerators have increased resulting in over consumption and food wastage around the world. In USA almost 40% of the food in great condition goes into trash, and there are over 200 countries around the world.
- To meet the demands farmers have to accelerate the production having to use fertilisers and pesticides, also altering the originality of the crop.
I think that’s enough facts to make us feel overwhelmed and alarmed, let’s get on with how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and negative human footprint just by making few changes in our lifestyle.
Now - “How to”
Now that we are aware of the effects our consumption of food has on the planet, I want to share things that have proven to help reduce the negative impact on the environment by us.
- It is proved that if you have cravings for meat and also want to contribute to the betterment of the planet, then Mediterranean diet high in unsaturated fats is your goto thing. A diet doesn’t mean you’re loosing weight or gaining muscle, it is a way of life that you practice everyday.
- This includes lots of Fruits and Vegetables (includes leafy greens), equal and small portions of lean protein sources like fish, chicken and diary products.
- Nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole wheat breads, garlic and onion.
- Occasionally and preferably red wine but do not exceed 14 portions or units per week.
2. If we really want to support our local farmers then we must buy our vegetables and fruits from the markets rather than supermarkets where chances of most fruits being imported are high. Also vegetables are fresh and won’t be necessary to store for long.
3. When you buy foods that are locally produced will reduce the need for importing products from other regions or countries which will require transportation which means emission of greenhouse gases.
4. Another benefit of consuming foods that are regional is that your body will be more immune to diseases and other health issues as our bodies are what we eat, so, eat local and stop being fancy when it comes to vegetables and fruits. Occasionally it is fine to go fancy but not good for the body and the planet on a regular basis.
5. Plan on storing only diary products for long in refrigerators and not vegetables and fruits. Buy only those foods which are really necessary and will be consumed within a couple days, also buy from the discounted section as they’re close to stale date and can be pocket friendly and environmentally friendly as you stop food from being wasted, no need to think low about this, just be proud that you’ve come forward to save the planet.
Try your best and don’t buy foods that are processed, instant cook and are preserved.
6. Eat as less as possible at fast-food restaurants as they transport their raw materials a lot and you wouldn’t want your burger or fries to be a reason for them to make an extra trip or open a new joint, I tried not to include pizza in the list but can’t help.
7. Always carry a paper (cardboard) bag or a jute bag that can be used more than 25 times to either carry groceries or vegetables from the market/store. Governments are making this a mandatory and have banned plastic in most regions but one in a while we won’t carry and then an extra plastic bag has to enter the environment only to spoil.
8. Well, no one likes to waste food, we are just not that conscious enough to understand the severity of the issue globally. So, when you’re going for a buffet next time, don’t pile up the food on plate if you’re not sure about having it all. If food wastage were a country then it’d be the third largest in emitting greenhouse gases that causes global warming.
9. Reduce the size of plates at home, if you’re planning to buy a new refrigerator then try to buy a smaller ones than the one you have at present if you’re not living in a joint-family.
10. Practice intermittent fasting to improve immunity and production of new cells in your body. Must be thinking how this will help the planet? As this will make you skip a meal or two and you’d only want to consume vegetables or fruits to break it as consuming meat can only make it worse for you.
11. Eat fish, more fish that are caught locally again, if you’re not close to the sea or ocean then you should be eating fresh water fish. If you crave for sea food then you have all the right to consume it but I’d recommend occasionally only.
12. This is my favourite part of this Food section,
- For each serving of Beef (mostly any red meat), 330g of CO2 is emitted, it is equal to ~5KM travelled by car. Not so Healthy.
- For each serving of Chicken, 52g of CO2 is emitted. Almost Healthy.
- For each serving of Fish, 40g of CO2 is emitted. Healthy.
- For each serving of Vegetables, 14g of CO2 is emitted. Healthy.
- For each serving of Lentils, 2g of CO2 is emitted. Most healthy.
Lentils are rich in protein and also rich when it comes to saving the planet.
13. 13th point sums pretty much on what foods you must consuming regularly.
14. Last but the most important one, don’t order food, go to the restaurant and eat it there else for all good, cook it at home and have it.
15. Also, you can carry zip-lock bags (reusable) or whatever container that seems fit when you go out to buy vegetables at a store/ market or a butcher shop to buy chicken or fish.
16. One best way to manage organic waste is to setup three or four compost making bins at home and it usually take a month to fill it completely, including tree litter like leaves, soil, little amounts of ready-to-use compost to accelerate the process. when one bin gets filled, the other will take up its place and so on to the last one. When the last one is filled, the very first bin which was there for three months now, contains the home-made compost. Don’t forget to keep the bins moist and if possible try to add earthworms so that the soil will be aerated. You can give away this compost or use it for plants at home.
17. Everyone loves buffet but that is when we over consume food and the excess is harmful to health. If there are more buffet places opening up then it means that there will be an increase in demand for live stock production and more food wastage, so, stop going to buffets and save the planet.
No food is as tastier and satisfying as home cooked food.
That is all for now about the Food and it’s effect on The Planet, you and I… puff… that was pretty long and boring, but that’s how things that matter the most are, nothing comes easy.
“Globalisation caused rapid climate emergency, now we shall return to going local to fight it”
With everyone now trying to practice a healthy lifestyle in all aspects is a good sign that at least we’re passively saving our planet.
Donate the food that you feel is excess, never hesitate to do it or suggest doing it to anyone, just act on it and if no one is coming forward to help donate the excess then do it on your own as much as possible, I don’t think everyone is so busy. There are many NGOs which work for this purpose, they make the excess food at events reach the needy, just call them up.
And yes, whatever you do from the above mention will definitely help reduce the greenhouse gases emitted, I am serious, even if it’s one person doing it then it does workout. But to compensate the natural disasters like fires in Amazon rainforests, California and now Australian bushfires we all need to work and practice these things everyday and make them a part of our life.
This is a calling for all the HUMANITY, animals are not the reason for this CLIMATE EMERGENCY, it is US, HUMANS.
Please do let me know if I have missed out anything, you can find videos on youtube by vox. I have taken reference of the facts and summarised the scientific studies into the points.
There will be two more updates to this blog, Shelter and Clothing, you are requested to let me know in the comments section if you have something on mind regarding anything that’s related to the Environment. I will try to include those wherever I can.