Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

What are you doing to make a difference? Today should be the day you take a look at how you're living and decide if there is anything else you could possibly do to live better for the environment.

The most effective way you can help the planet is.... to go veg! (Or at least eat less meat.) How is this so, you may wonder. Well... it's true. Raising animals for food consumption not only wastes so much of Earth's resources, it also pollutes, and adds enormously to green house gases. A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, Hummers, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

*Click on paragraph titles to read the whole article!*

How meat eating affects our land resource:
"According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute, much of it to create more room for farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., nearly 80 percent is used in some way to raise animals—that's roughly half of the total land mass of the U.S.10 More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals."

"In the United States and around the world, overgrazing leads to the extinction of indigenous plant and animal species, soil erosion, and eventual desertification that renders once-fertile land barren."

How meat eating affects our food resource:
" This is why more than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that we grow in this country are fed to farmed animals."

"The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth.19 About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone."

How meat eating affects our energy resource:
"E, the respected environmental magazine, noted in 2002 that more than one-third of all fossil fuels produced in the United States are used to raise animals for food."
*In 2002! Imagine what it is today!*

"Most of us turn off the lights when we leave a room and attempt to conserve energy in other ways, but eating meat is the most inefficient and resource-intensive thing we do. If we Americans cut our meat consumption, our oil problems would be drastically reduced. "

How meat eating affects our water resource:
"It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year."

How meat eating affects our rainforest resource:
"According to the nonprofit group Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms."
*This has continued since then to today!*

How meat eating is polluting our planet more than any other source of pollution:
Fecal Contamination:
"According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined."

"Animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. population, roughly 89,000 pounds per second, all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, animals on factory farms in America produce 20 tons of fecal matter each year for every U.S. household."

Water Pollution:
"The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Besides the environmental problems caused by farmed animal waste, the dangerous fecal bacteria from farm sewage, including E. coli, can also cause serious illness in humans. "

"The pollution from animal factories is also destroying parts of the world’s oceans. In the middle of the United States, streams and rivers carry excrement from animal factories to the Mississippi River, which then deposits the waste in the Gulf of Mexico. The nitrogen from animal feces—and from fertilizer, which is primarily used to grow crops for farmed animals—causes algae populations to skyrocket, leaving little oxygen for other life forms. A 2006 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone”—an area in which virtually all the sea animals and plants have died—is now half the size of Maryland. In 2006, a separate study by Princeton University found that a shift away from meat production—as well as Americans’ adoption of vegetarian diets—would dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen in the Gulf to levels that would make the dead zone “small or non-existent.”

Air Pollution:
"A study in Texas found that animal feedlots in the state produce more than 14 million pounds of particulate dust every year and that the dust “contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungi from the feces and the feed."
"The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the United States come from animal waste."

How meat eating affects global warming:
"A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, Hummers, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined."

Even if you can't imagine living without eating meat, how about at least eating vegetarian once or twice a week? That's not hard is it? If everyone in our country did that, demand would drastically go down for factory farmed animals, and all of these bad affects would lessen!

Other things I do (and you can too!)
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buy used if possible!
Natural Cleaning (there are a ton of recipes on the internet, I'm just getting started out with this, and I love it.)
Using a water filter (like Brita) instead of buying water bottles.
Cloth diapering (I am going to be doing this with the next baby, I really wish I had done it with Carlee.)
Take your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

But of course, the main thing that helps is eating more of a plant based diet.


erin said...

Thanks for this informative post! And happy Earth Day to you as well :)

Sheena said...

thanks! Glad you liked the articles! ciao

mira said...

don't think I will ever go totally meatless, but I am impressed by the dedication of those of you that do.

you are doing cloth? hooray! now I have 2 pg moms to sew for :)

Kataroma said...

Not a veggie here but we contribute to the earth by:

-not owning a car - we walk everywhere or take the bus. Now that I'm heavily pregnant I occasionally take a taxi but usually it's bus/metro or walk
-cloth diapering our upcoming baby - I've got all the dipes ready and am gung ho!
-not using a clothes dryer - never owned one and never will. What's the point? Even when I lived in Russia no one had one - they'd put their clothes outside in winter to freeze dry! Or just dry inside.
-not owning a dishwasher
-living in a small flat in a city - much better for the environment that living in a house in the country and the lifestyle that goes with that (driving etc.)

hah! I feel so smug now. :)