Cutting down on your environmental footprint takes conscious effort in every part of your life. It means thinking about how you travel, what you wear, and which products you use. What you eat also plays a major role in your environmental impact. If you want to minimise the effect you have on the world’s resources, here’s what you need to know.
Meat production has major impacts
Specifically, producing large animals such as sheep and cattle places a significant strain on the planet. For instance, it takes 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of beef. A typical UK consumer eats about 36 pounds of beef every year. The intense farming required to produce meat on this scale has a profound impact on land, leading to topsoil erosion and pollution.
Where has your food come from?
Although the food chain contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, scientific consensus places this at only about 15%. However, you can still reduce the impact of your diet on the environment by choosing locally-grown foods, especially ones grown with minimal synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Demand for year-round access to fruit and vegetables means supermarkets ship in produce from around the world. Flying in strawberries from Egypt might be great for dessert, but not for the environment.
One interesting recent development is vertical farming, where plants are grown in stacked trays inside city-centre warehouses. These can provide fresh fruit and vegetables on demand, rather than needing to be shipped thousands of miles. Thanks to the controlled environment they also require fewer pesticides and fertilisers. Although these aren’t widely-seen yet, there’s good reason to believe that vertical farming offers a smart way to grow produce with a much smaller environmental impact.
Keeping your footprint small
If you’re environmentally-aware, then chances are you’re already keeping an eye on the food you eat. However, going green doesn’t mean you have to turn vegan overnight. Many people choose a “flexitarian” diet, which means eating meat rarely rather than as a matter of course. You’d be surprised how many great-tasting recipes don’t need any meat in them at all. If you’re discerning about the products you eat, and you understand what impact they have on the environment, you’re already playing your part in keeping the world green.