Let’s Talk About Sustainability

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how people are living. People want to do better things for the environment, so they’re taking steps to make their lives less wasteful. Most of this centers on ditching plastic straws and bringing your own reusable grocery bags to the store.

But are you living a sustainable life? Will you be able to continue to live your life the way you are and leave the earth in an okay shape for your children and grandchildren?

It’s a lot easier than you think.

No, I’m not talking about using bamboo toothbrushes or composting, though those are great ideas.

I’m talking about the way you eat. What you put on your plate at home or order at a restaurant. The foods you buy at the grocery store without a second thought.

Did you know that agriculture accounts for 80% of the United States’ water usage? That sounds insane, but we have to eat, right? There’s no way to fix this?

Except there is.

To produce a single hamburger, 660 gallons of water will be used through all of production.

In contrast, the new vegan “impossible burger”, one of the most popular and best tasting veggie burgers on the market, only uses 20-23 gallons of water to produce.

Animal agriculture uses more water than any other food, product, or transportation operation.

Just take a look at this image from waterfootprint.org, detailing the water usage in different crops and animal products. Is it just ironic that the top 7 items come from animal agriculture? Or could this possibly mean something?

Most of the water used to get meat from an animal to your table is actually used while the animal is still alive. Yes, animals drink a lot of water- especially in the summer- but that’s not where all that water is coming from. Most of the water in that chart is referring to the water it took to crow crops that fed the animals.

Animals raised for meat eat a lot.

A cow raised for beef eats about 24 pounds of hay a day, depending on how much it weighs and what all it’s fed.

Dairy cows alone eat about 100 pounds of feed per day, PER COW.

That’s a lot of food. That’s a lot of water. That is so much water that we will not be able to continue this for much longer.

Can you imagine how many starving orphans, veterans, and PEOPLE we could feed if we weren’t using so much water and food on animals, for the upper class to eat?

And it isn’t just water.

Do you remember all the news going around about how our rainforests are being destroyed? Buying and eating meat is a major contributor.

It takes a lot of land to raise animals, especially cattle. We’re running out of room in the US, so cattle ranches are moving down to Central and South America to cut down tropical rainforests to make more room for their money-making operations.

“It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest are destroyed.” –Rainforest Concern

Did you read that? Every POUND of beef- that’s not even for every cow!

We are destroying rain forests, and pretty soon, we won’t have any left.

But what about the oceans? 70% of our planet is covered in salt water, which means, yes, they’re being effected too.

Yes, straws and toothbrushes add to the plastic in the water, but it was recently found that 46% of the plastic in the ocean is from fishing gear.

So if you’ll give up straws to save fish, why not give up fish to save fish?

And it isn’t only fish dying because of this plastic. National Geographic stated that an estimated 100,000 marine animals- yes, this includes your precious dolphins, turtles, and whales- are injured, strangled, and suffocated every single year because of this fishing gear.

Along with that, ocean dead zones (areas of the ocean that are very low on oxygen and are completely depleted of life) are slowly getting bigger and bigger, and the cause of these areas are runoff and pollution from the land.

The largest dead zone on earth is right here in the US- the gulf of Mexico, largely caused by fertilizer and manure running through the Mississippi river right down into the ocean.

A recent study conducted by Mighty Earth found that the largest contributor to this dead zone is Tyson Food.

Yes, THE Tyson Food company. The same company that provides meat to places like McDonalds and Jimmy Dean. The same company that produces one out of every five pounds of meat in the US.

We are killing our planet simply by the choices we make of what to put on our plates.

No, I’m not saying you have to completely give up animal products and go vegan or vegetarian.

Simply being aware of these issues makes a huge impact. Choosing to cut down on your meat, dairy, and egg consumption could make the world of a difference. Try “meatless Mondays”, only eating meat for one meal a day, or even just choosing the Impossible Burger over a beef burger at a restaurant.

If you don’t want to do it for the animals or your health, do it for the planet. Do it for the starving people who live in countries where we grow foods that will feed your food. Do it for your future children or grandchildren so that they can experience the joy of the ocean or learning about animals that live in the rain forests.

Or just do it for you, because this is your planet too.

Turning a blind eye to the destruction of our planet won’t change anything.

Taking small steps to better your water footprint or reduce your hand in the ocean dead zones will.

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