Simple, inexpensive things you can do to help the planet
Posts Tagged ‘Food’
At It’s the little things, we love pets as much as the next person, but some new research has concluded that owning a dog is the equivalent of driving a SUV.
The primary source of carbon emissions isn’t your pet’s poos, but the production of meat to feed him. One of the best things you, as a person, can do for the environment is to eat less meat. The same goes for pets. If you can afford it, you could give vegetarian pet food a try.
Another alternative to giving up the companionship of the-only-one-in-the-world-other-than-your-mother-who-truly-loves-you-unconditionally is to buy carbon credits to offset the impact of your pet.
It almost goes without saying that you should always get your pets spayed and neutered to prevent more little carbon factories from coming into the world.
Sad as it is to say, it may be time to say so long to Spot.
18% of the world’s carbon dioxide is produced by cows. That’s more than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation combined.
The folks at AlterNet have compiled a great list of reasons (environmental and otherwise) to say boo to moo.
I can hear our French readers now, “La monde sans fromage? Quelle horreur!” And, certainly, our American readers are wondering how they’re going to manage without that bowl of Cheerios in the morning. It takes some getting used to, but soy and rice milk both make nice alternatives to cow juice for cereal. Soy cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream are pretty good as well. Especially the ice cream. Mmm, ice cream.
It’s important to note that soy is not a panacea. Do your homework to know which brands are environmentally responsible in the way they source their beans.
Like most things, cutting back is better than doing nothing. If nothing else, next time you’re at Starbucks, make it a soy latte.
Ask anyone, they’ll tell you, the first step to making change is to admit you have a problem.
If you’re reading this, chances are your activities produce more carbon and other greenhouse gases than the average human being. If you don’t know how much more, now’s the time to find out.
The truth shall set you free
The simplest way to calculate your carbon footprint is to use an online calculator. Here are a few of our favorites.
If you live in the United States, one of the best is the Cool Climate Carbon Footprint Calculator by The Berkeley Institute of the Environment. Another excellent calculator for Americans is provided by The Nature Conservancy It takes into account home energy, transportation, diet, and recycling habits. Also USA-centric, Yahoo! offer an easy to use calculator, though it’s perhaps a bit too simplistic.
Our UK readers may want to try the Ecological Footprint Calculator by Best Foot Forward, winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2005.
For the rest of us, the calculator at Carbon Footprint lets you choose the country in which you live. It requires entry of specific amounts of different types of energy used to calculate household use, which can be tedious, but should give accurate results.
Resurgence Magazine offer both quick and detailed carbon calculators, developed by Mukti Mitchell, designer of zero-emission yachts. The quick version lets you calculate the carbon produced by your energy use by asking you how much you spent on different types of energy over the past year while the detailed version asks for kilowatt hours used.
We’ve talked before about the importance of eating less meat to the environment. The Low Carbon Diet Calculator helps make our point by showing the relative impact of different kinds of food. (Of note is the fact that tofu is not much better than beef or lamb in terms of carbon produced!)
A quick and easy way to compare the carbon impact of different modes of travel is to use the CO2 emissions calculator from Transport Direct.
Lastly, if you’re an iPhone user, there are several applications (several of which are free) that can help you calculate and track your carbon emissions, such as Carbon Tracker. Go into iTunes and search for “carbon calculator” for more.
Knowing how much carbon dioxide is produced by what you do every day is the first step towards reducing your impact. Best of all, it’s free to find out.
Do you have a favorite carbon calculator that we missed? Link to it in the comments!
Eating less meat is a simple, effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the world’s leading authority on global warming, recommends cutting back on meat consumption as a “sacrifice that would help tackle climate change.”
Meat production accounts for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas production. In some parts of the world, industrial ranching (particularly beef) compounds the problem by driving deforestation. It takes 3kg of plant protein to produce 1kg of animal protein.
You could try 1 meatless day per week or eating simply until 6 o’clock. Either way, isn’t a little less meat in your diet worth it to help the planet?
Not sure where to start?
If you’ve always made meat the focus of your meals, you might be wondering exactly how to do this. Eating meals without meat doesn’t mean you’re stuck with salad! Popular foodie site Epicurious is one of many with great meat-free recipes.
If you want to go hardcore, you could try eating raw/vegan a few times a week using recipes from Gone Raw or Fatfree Vegan. With gems like pistachio-cilantro pesto, you won’t be suffering. (Thanks to Karen Brown and Stephanie Hedges for the links!)