In this post, I’ll run you through two important steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and combat climate change:
- Eat less meat
- Reduce food waste
If you want to fall asleep at night knowing you are part of the solution, then reduce how much red meat is in your diet, and reduce your organic food waste.
Why these two?
According to Project Drawdown, the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, eating less beef (and more plants instead) and reducing food waste are the two highest-ranked individual solutions.
The expert team at Drawdown have comprehensively analysed every possible solution that already exists to lower carbon emissions, from regenerative farming to renewable energy to electric cars and beyond.
Some of these solutions can only be handled by governments or large corporates (like building off-shore wind turbines). But the good news is, of the top 100 solutions available to mankind, the two I’m going to run you through in this article rank #4 & #3 respectively.
It turns out individual actions can make a difference and the choices you make really do matter.
Action 1: Eating less red meat
You can reduce the carbon footprint of your diet by up to 50% by simply removing meat.
How is this possible? Cows produce lots and lots and lots of methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 80x more damaging than carbon dioxide.
Farming cows also takes a monumental amount of space, that otherwise could be forest soaking up carbon, or used to grow crops for human consumption.
The problem goes deeper though. Depending on which source you look at, approximately 70% of all the soybeans produced around the world are fed to livestock as feed. They are also fed countless tonnes of wheat and other grains which could be feed to humans instead.
Note: In NZ, we also import approx. 2 million tonnes of Palm Kernel Extract each year at a cost of over $600 million and feed it to cows.
We have all been raised with the belief that we need to eat red meat to get protein and iron. The truth is though, there is protein and iron in plant-based foods as well. Foods like spinach, broccoli, oats and lentils are naturally high in iron.
Gram per gram, vegetables often have a higher iron content than foods typically associated with high iron, such as meat and eggs. And though vegetables contain non-heme iron, which is less easily absorbed, they are also generally rich in vitamin C, which helps enhance iron absorption.
Action 2: Reduce food waste
On a global scale, ranked with countries, food waste would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, just behind the United States and China.
But wait, doesn’t it just bio-degrade?
Not quite, when organic waste gets dumped in a landfill it gets trapped without air and rots, releasing methane.
Alternatively, when organic waste is disposed of naturally, via a process like composting, tiny little microbes break the food down back into a form that can be used to rekindle the soil around us, allowing it to store more carbon.
This beautiful cycle of carbon storage and sequestration literally has the power to save us all. We just need to embrace it.