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Chapter 5 - Do more
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5.2 Your Food
We have talked about buying locally and/or organically grown food whenever possible, but there's another option to consider and that's eating no meat.
This, of course, comes naturally to many of us either for lifestyle, health or religious reasons, but much of the world's population is staunchly carnivore.
It's possible if even half that population understood how damaging cattle are to our environment they might rethink their loyalty to meat.
For each pound of meat you don't eat, you could save as much as 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water. In addition, factories that process cattle are one of the most prolific contributors to fossil fuel emissions, and the waste from cattle is dangerous and harmful to the environment.
In the United States alone, more than 200 million pounds of beef is imported each year from Central America. In order to clear land for the cattle to graze, thousands of acres of beneficial rainforests are destroyed.
Finally, cattle create 20% of the world's methane gas emissions. That's emissions from the bodies of the cows themselves. That's a lot of cow gas. Consider this: Eating one hamburger is equivalent to driving your car every day for three weeks.
While many people concerned about the environment choose to go vegetarian (or vegan), if you are unwilling to give up beef altogether, you can make some changes:
|Reduce the amount of beef you do eat.|
|Find quality sources of beef, particularly that raised organically and without hormones.|
|Do your homework to be sure the beef you do buy is produced in your country and not from Central America. By eating locally produced meat you're not only helping to save rainforests, but you are also helping the environment by ensuring that large trucks carrying your beef don't pollute the air with more fossil fuels.|
People are often resistant to moving away from chemicals for cleaning and toward natural cleaning products, but doing so will help the environment.
If you happen to like the somewhat overwhelming smell of some cleaning products, you probably have it in your head that the stronger the smell, the more effective the product.
Experts say that most natural cleaning products - whether store bought or homemade - are just as effective as their harsher counterparts. In some cases, they are more effective.
By choosing natural cleaning products you:
|Reduce the chemicals released into the air from factories making the chemical cleaners.|
|Reduce the amount of chemicals that are released into our rivers and streams through your home's waste system.|
|Reduce the amount of chemicals solvents that are released into the atmosphere.|
|Begin to reduce your reliance on factory-made products and get a good understanding of what can be created with a little more muscle and a dedication to green causes.|
Look in our "resources" section for information about where to find natural cleaning products or how to find recipes for homemade cleaners.
When you plan a vacation, think about how you can do it in an environmentally friendly way. One way to do this is avoid air travel.
Airplanes - particularly the larger planes that take you on long journeys - are major contributors to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
If you must travel, consider these tips:
|If you think you can drive, even if it's a long trip, drive to your destination (even consider renting a small, hybrid car).|
|Consider taking a train or bus instead of an airplane. Neither are equivalent to, say, walking, but they are infinitely better than an airplane.|
|Once you arrive at your destination, rent a car only if necessary. If you do have a vehicle, drive it only when absolutely necessary.|
|While on vacation, choose activities that have little environmental impact, such as golfing at the the golf course that recycles water.|
If you find that you have a hard time making simple or the larger changes, you can consider purchasing carbon credits.
Carbon credits are a fairly new concept but work a little bit like this: You will buy credits annually and then surrender them when you buy electricity or fuel. In exchange, trees are planted to offset your electricity or fuel usage.
This is a last resort, as the better option is to reduce your individual usage and to respect the environment enough to make those daily and regular changes. But if you find you can't, or feel you don't do it enough, this might be an option. Check the "resources" section for information on how and where to purchase carbon credits.