How’s your carbon footprint?
Interested in ways you can reduce your carbon footprint? Some of our previous Conservation Blogs have talked about reducing single-use plastic consumption. You can also watch your energy use, as most of the energy we use comes from nonrenewable resources. Simple ways to reduce energy include unplugging electronics when not in use and/or buying power chargers; turning off lights when not in the room; washing clothes on cold rather than warm; buying certified energy-efficient appliances; and reducing water use whenever you can.
You can also make important choices when it comes to your food!
There are 7 billion people on Earth sharing 7.68 billion acres of arable land. That would be plenty of space for one acre per person, with places left over for wildlife and their homes. However, meat consumption takes up to three times more than that, requiring precious wild lands to be used for raising beef and growing their food. Of all the different forms of meat, beef can have the biggest impact on our environment and our resources.
Did you know that producing 2.2 pounds of beef takes enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 20 days? Or that it takes 660 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? (Sources: Sustainable Table and Seafood Watch). Reducing your meat consumption even just one day a week can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
The Amazon rainforest is the home to numerous endangered species, including a species near-and-dear to us here at Zoo Atlanta: the golden lion tamarin. One of the most important ecosystems on the planet, the Amazon rainforest is being cut down at a rapid rate to grow feed for livestock. The livestock industry directly affects a lot of our endangered species and our planet!
Put simply, there’s simply not enough land for our growing populations and consumption. Seventy percent of this planet’s agricultural land is used for livestock production (2006 FAO report), with 30 percent of ALL terrestrial land on Earth used for livestock (John D. Sutter, CNN).
Cattle also produce large amounts of methane. With the 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas pollution that can be attributed to livestock, 65 percent of that comes from raising beef and dairy cattle. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas with 25 times more global warming potential as carbon dioxide. In America, the average cow releases an average of 117 pounds per year.
By just avoiding meat one day a week, you can help protect much needed habitat and reduce greenhouse gases. Food for thought!
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor