By Rachel Roberts
Livestock farming is responsible for a number of serious environmental problems including climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and air and water pollution. According to the Worldwatch institute, agriculture is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. If each American cut meat and cheese out of their diets just one day a week, it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Why not challenge yourself and go vegetarian twice a week this year? Vegetarian diets have proven to be just as healthful, and nutritionally adequate.
To manufacture and transport a one-kilogram bottle of Fiji water, approximately 7.1 gallons of water are required, 0.26 gallons of fossil fuels are used, and 1.2 pounds of greenhouse gases are produced. It takes more water to produce a plastic water bottle, than the bottle actually holds! Although plastic bottles can be recycled, about 80% of single- use plastic water bottles in the United States typically become litter. Landfills in the U.S. harbor about 2 million plastic water bottles, and that number will only increase if nothing is done.
Annually, 4 to 5 trillion non-degradable plastic bags are used worldwide. According to the international environmental group, Planet Ark, plastic bags kill about 100,000 whales, seals, and turtles every year. In their lifetime, re-useable bags can save more than 700 plastic bags from being used. This year, keep a couple of re-useable shopping bags in your car, or near your door to keep from using plastic bags at the store.
Composting is a great way to avoid using chemical fertilizers because it adds nutrients to the soil without polluting it—not to mention you save money because you no longer have to purchase fertilizers from the department store. Composting also keeps organic material out of landfills. This is important because rotting food releases methane, a major greenhouse gas. Not only does composting minimize greenhouse gases, but it also aids groundcover crop growth, which helps sequester carbon. Composting requires very little work, but has huge positive impacts on the environment.
Cars are comfortable and convenient, which may be why so many people prefer cars to walking or public transportation. Public transportation in the United States, however, saves about 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This year, if you live near public transportation, or are able to walk to your destination, put on your shoes, enjoy some fresh air, and help take a car off the road.
“10 Reasons to Compost.” Nature’s Needs.. Web. 5 Jan. 2015. <http://www.naturesneeds.com/10_reasons_to_compost.htm>.
“Bottle Water Is Wasteful.” The Water Project. Web. 5 Jan. 2015. <http://thewaterproject.org/bottled_water_wasteful>. West, Larry.
“Take Public Transportation – Save Money, Save The World.” AboutNews. Web. 5 Jan. 2015. <http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/public_transit.htm>.
“Why Use Reusable Shopping Bags.” Reuse This Bag. Web. 5 Jan. 2015. <http://www.reusethisbag.com/why.php>.