Earth Day is all about educating people to the immediate threat of humanity, (nothing less than that!) climate change.
So if you have some environmental conscience already, these suggestions won’t be much news, but sometimes remainders are good. Bear in mind, these are suggestions and by no means a to do list that anyone has to follow. We all live in very different situations and also have very different pleasures in life. Whatever you decide to change, don’t forget about yourself and your own happiness. Having as little impact as possible is a great thing, but if it makes you miserable it is not.
Also, this is a very vast subject and this is a very short post, so I simply can’t talk about all the fine (yet important) details.
Agriculture is one of the biggest polluters on Earth, hence why switching your diet is the most efficient way of reducing your environmental impact.
1 – Less or No Animal Products in Food
There is no denying of the impact of animal farming on the environment. Back in 2006, the UN made a lengthy analysis on it, urging the world to adopt a plant based diet.
On top of that most animal farming has become highly exploitative and brutal, simply to respond to a always growing demand. The dairy industry is closer to a horror movie than Heidi our days.
That being said, certain foods, like bivalves (oyster, mussels) are a very good choices in terms of impact but also in terms of sentience. As for everything it’s rarely black or white.
2- Produce Less or No Waste
To quote the zero waste home : Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order).
Try to buy as much packaging-free produce as you can. Visit your local farmer’s market if you have one, look out for plastic-free packaged foods and for foods sold in bulk in those big jars.
Bring your own reusable bags to carry all the packaging free produce.
3 – Consume (a lot) Less and Better
It’s likely you already have all you need at home, so only buy food and necessities and if you feel like wanting to buy something new, maybe do something fun instead, like going for a walk, reading, playing, painting, etc.
Another good option is to buy handmade from an artisan or artist, that way you are helping someone else out while getting something of value for yourself.
4 – Cook from scratch
Oats milk or almond’s milk is surprisingly easy if you have a blender. Lentils cook in just 20 minutes, apple compote is fast, cheap and delicious and making your own jam is easier than you might imagine. So is pizza dough and caning foods.
Some foods might make no sense to make yourself, as a food facility is much more efficient than you will ever be. Like your baker is much more efficient than you to make fresh bread and tofu is easier to buy than to make yourself from scratch using soy beans.
But as a general rule, cooking yourself is a great way to reduce your waste.
5 – Consider having fewer or no kids
This seems to be a touchy subject, but it’s simply math. We are a lot of humans on earth right now, and each human is quite an environmental catastrophe, so limiting the demography by choice is a good option.
6 – Be a smart and fair consumer
This is a very unfair point as most of us don’t have the time for that, but making informed choices is crucial too. Everything needs to be double checked, some products might be a better option than others, some might better be avoided.
Some products to look into are palm oil, almonds, bananas and chocolate. Are they fair trade? Do they come from a sustainable farm? What is their environmental footprint?
7 – Look into Permaculture / Grow your own Food
While I don’t believe permaculture can nourish the whole world, I do think that every bit helps and if you are looking into being self sufficient food wise or only into using your garden in a smarter way and growing your own food, permaculture is the best way to do so. It is the subtle balance of different plants that will help each other grow and repel insects. No pesticides are used, it’s “just” about smart planning.
8 – Reconsider GMO
Now this will probably come as shocker for many of you, especially since I also am a big supporter of permaculture, but GMO isn’t all that bad.
I invite you to see this video from In a Nutshell / Kurzgesagt that really weighs in the good and bad about it.
It’s not much of a discussion in Europe in the sense that there is hardly GMO in the grocery stores and that most governments are investing into organic farming.
By the way, in Europe, organic food is better than conventional in all points BUT in yield. However yield is about 6% less good in terms of yield in polyculture. And yes, organic does use pesticides and some are worse than their chemical counterparts, however even with that the toxicity of organic is lesser than conventional, even if it’s not much. Sadly not a miracle solution. Not for meat though, organic has a worse impact than conventional, simply because it treats animal much better and uses more land for that. I don’t eat meat, so it’s rarely a concern for me.
Don’t hesitate to add to this list in the comment section below.
And please stay kind and polite even if you disagree with some of my suggestions.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN : Livestock a major threat to environment (2006)
FAO : Livestock’s Long Shadow
Earth Day – take action
Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gapLauren C. Ponisio, Leithen K. M’Gonigle, Kevi C. Mace, Jenny Palomino, Perry de Valpine, Claire Kremen
Are GMOs good or bad? Nutshell / Kurzgesagt
Futura science : Agriculture Biologique : son impact positif démontré dans une étude
The impact of meat production