Earth day happens every year on the 22nd April, since 1970! This year’s theme is Invest in Our Planet. We’ve all seen it on the news and all-over social media, our planet needs us to act. Climate change is happening and it’s happening right in front of our eyes. Rainfall patterns have changed, and we’ve seen increased flooding in places like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Italy and in the UK. On the flip side, drought has become more common in places like Somaliland, Australia and California causing wildfires and destroying the habitats for many people and animals.
It can be overwhelming to think about all the effects of climate change but there are lots of small changes we can make that will make a meaningful difference for our planet.
Industrial food production is the second biggest contributor to climate change after burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas. The rearing of beef in particular, contributes to deforestation and is estimated to use 1800 gallons of water per 1lb of meat. Not only this but livestock rearing also accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases- much of this is from cow farts (methane).
Cutting down on meat and switching to a more plant-based diet can help fight climate change, and is a less harmful use of our land and forests.
We live in a global food market which means that we can enjoy food from all cultures and cuisines which is exciting. However, this often means we are sourcing ingredients that either don’t grow even close to us or which are out of season in our country and therefore must be flown in from all around the world. We refer to the distance a food travels as it’s food miles. The more food miles our meals have the more impact on the environment.
Trying to support local farmers where you can is a great option, however this may not always be possible due to cost and location. You can check where your food is grown on most fruit and vegetable packaging at supermarkets. More and more supermarkets are putting an emphasis on this. If you can’t see where something is from, ask. The more people that ask, the more supermarkets will have to respond to consumer demand and it will be easier for us to determine where our food is actually coming from.
Sunlight, heat, and biodegrading can cause plastics to break down into microplastics. These can enter the water system, microplastics have been found in fish and even in the air we breathe. The degradation can also release greenhouse gases like methane into the air, causing global warming.
Try to buy foods that haven’t been packaged in single use plastics and if you can’t avoid it, see if you can find somewhere that recycles them. Sometimes they can be more expensive but trying zero waste shops where you can your own containers and fill up on basics like flour, rice, washing up liquid and much more using your own containers again and again is a great option.
If you want to check your food carbon footprint you can use this calculator:
Car pollution is a major contributor to air pollution. Not only has air pollution been linked to serious health conditions but it also causes global warming.
Some research suggests that going car free is the most effective action an individual can take to help reduce emissions. Not only is it good for the planet but it can be good for us too! That short trip that you normally drive could be walked, ran, skated, cycled….get creative.