You don’t have to sign up to a volunteer programme or work directly within the field of conservation to have an impact. Many of the ways in which you can contribute to a more sustainable planet can be found right on your doorstep.
Let’s take diet for example, scientists have suggested that if you reduce your red meat consumption by one day a week, it is the equivalent of taking your car off the road for a whole month.
Now, you may be thinking ‘what on earth has eating meat got to do with driving your car?’
Well, as it stands, methane gas produced by livestock around the world, contributes the second highest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions affecting climate change.
With Carbon dioxide emitting around 76%, Methane still accumulates a detrimental 16%, the remaining 8% consisting of Nitrous oxide and Fluorinated gases.
So, trying a simple ‘meat free Monday’, will not only save you a bit of money, but you’ll be able to try new recipes, whilst keeping your dietary preferences and ultimately, reduce your carbon footprint.
On the other hand, you have the option of embracing a meat free diet in veganism or vegetarianism. There are of course other options to consider, but for the sake of demonstrating difference, it is best to compare these choices.
Though these diets are the most efficient in terms of reducing your meat and dairy consumption, it is important to appreciate that they too, fall short to certain socioeconomic and environmental challenges.
Let’s use quinoa for the first example, a grain crop, high in protein and fibre. First domesticated in the Peruvian Andes, quinoa quickly became a popular alternative to meat for the western consumer.
However, with exponential demand, quinoa has created somewhat of a socioeconomic problem for native farmers. With such a high value in the international market, many farmers now prefer to sell it and instead buy cheaper, less nutritious food for themselves.
To add to this, the growing commercial quinoa cultivation within Europe is leading to land degradation caused by intensified production of quinoa.
Using asparagus as the second example, a super vegetable, high in vitamins A,C, E and K, chromium and fibre.
In 2017, the national resources defense council (NRDC) released it’s report on foods with the most significant impact on climate change.
Surprisingly, asparagus came in ahead of pork, veal, chicken and turkey, mostly due to to amount if air miles it takes to transport the commodity internationally.
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking you may as well just starve yourself because it appears that you can’t eat anything without affecting the planet and in most cases, the later is true.
However, I believe it is necessary for all eating parties to simply become more aware of where our food comes from and what the further implications of our choices are, in order to become a more sustainable and conscientious consumer.
Choosing to eat foods from local produce and organic vendors is a great way to do this as you’ll be putting back into your local community at the same time as, you guessed it, reducing your carbon footprint.
The point is that there isn’t a perfect diet to save the planet, but it is well within our choices to select and understand how we can help, relative to our personal needs.
But who knows, if we really do fall on hard times in the future, we may have to resort to a diet of insects, as sampled by myself in Mexico’s food capital, Oaxaca.