Our Planet in Crisis: What Can We Do?
My significant other told me that the title of this blog post was really aggressive. I don't want to start out all up in ya face, but in my opinion and in the opinion of many of the world's top scientists and researchers, if we don't get aggressive with our actions now, we are in for a really rude awakening in the near future.
I have been reading about the recent fires in the Amazon rainforest, and with many of the articles and information I consume regarding the state of our planet, many times it is hard for me to finish whatever I am reading or watching because it is so devastating to me. I actually get pains in my stomach and want to cry. I might be particularly emotional because I obviously have a passion for the Earth, conservation, animal advocacy, etc. As with any devastating news whether it be mass shootings, natural disasters, or hearing about sex trafficking, the onslaught of emotions can cause many of us to shudder, turn off our phones or close our laptops and quickly move on with our days. We don't want to be cold hearted, but the scale of the incident is so big, and the emotions can be so strong, that I think it is a natural human reaction to overwhelm to divert our attention to things that we can control and regulate. We don't want to feel bad. If we can't physically solve the problem in a short period of time, what are we supposed to do about it, right?
This has been happening with matters of the Earth for far too long. According to the National Resource Defense Council, "We are facing an extinction crisis. In fact, in just the last 50 years, we have lost 60% of all wild animals on Earth." A generation or two from now, the only elephants or polar bears that exist might be in the zoo.
I really, really, really don't like being pushy, aggressive, or try to scare people with doom and gloom statistics. It's really not how I want to roll, but you never know what will resonate with even one person. The point of this post is to give you real, actionable steps you can take that really will make a difference. Get your co-workers, friends, family, church, community groups on board. These are the only things we can do because it's going to take small changes from a large percentage of people instead of huge changes from a small percentage of people that will really turn the tide for our planet. I tip my hat to the person that is living off the grid in a solar paneled cabin and produces zero waste, but we need this eco thing to go mainstream. I have outlined 5 steps below that I personally believe can help our planet that really don't require epic or radical lifestyle changes. Pick one, pick them all, but the most important part is to stay consistent and committed. (Really applies to any habit you are trying to form in life).
1.) Change Your Diet
Here we go, the plant based advocate is about to open up a can of broccoli on your ass. Seriously, this is the number one thing you can do. Diet is a touchy subject. This is America. We can eat whatever we want in whatever quantities we want, whenever we want. Massive industries like meat, dairy, and eggs have told us that in order to have a healthy diet, we must consume these products. We will become frail looking, beanpole dweebs if we don't drink milk and eat lots of chicken for protein. Guess what? These industries are so massive and have so much money that they have huge sway with governmental policies regarding our food system. The conflict of interest is outrageous, and this isn't a weird hippie conspiracy theory. It is fact, and their influence has turned the Standard American Diet into what it is today, with devastating results on the country's health. (Yes, we are still the fattest country in the world).
Besides the negative impact on health, the heavy focus on animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The amount of forests cleared to house animal agriculture operations, not to mention the insane amount of waste these animals produce, and the water consumption needed is mind blowing. People are cutting and burning down the Amazon rainforest because the demand for meat is so high that they need more space. Think about this- all of the grains grown that we are using to fatten up cows could be fed to humans who are starving. I could go on more about this, but if you are interested in further educating yourself, read this article from One Green Planet. I can't not mention that these animals suffer horribly, being confined to tiny cages where they can't even stand up or move, endure deplorable living conditions and abuse, and never even see the outside or the sun.
Bottom line, a plant based diet is one of the best changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint. I'm not saying you can never eat meat or have cheese again. Even changing your meals to plant based 50% of the time is something awesome! The health benefits are amazing- less saturated fat, less antibiotic and hormone consumption, more antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and most people see a positive change in their weight and energy levels. A whole foods, plant based diet is the only diet proven to prevent and reverse heart disease, this country's number one killer. Voting with your dollar on what you purchase to eat will send a message to giant animal agriculture companies that we don't need as many animals to consume our precious resources. We can make moves towards more sustainable food practices and diversify the crops we grow on our land. If you would like to read more about this, I have about a million resources. Some of my favorites are NutritionFacts.org, Forks Over Knives, and Center for Nutrition Studies
Want more info about my journey from a meat obsessed burger smasher to a plant based advocate? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share anything you want to know!
2.) Shop With Companies That Care
We are sticking with the theme of voting with your dollar. Money doesn't just talk in America, it screams. We hold the power of demand in our wallets. Who we give our money to is huge. We might have to adjust our expectations and be a little more patient by shifting away from Amazon Prime, but it is a tiny blip in the convenience factor if you plan ahead a little bit more when you do your online purchasing. I know that not every person has the luxury of spending a little bit more to support a greener shopping experience, but there are many ways to shop in a more eco friendly way like thrifting, swapping, Facebook Marketplace, apps like OfferUp and LetGo, consignment stores, etc. Here are a few companies where you can shop where you know your dollar is supporting a company that cares about the environment and you can buy products that are better for the environment, too.
Household: EarthHero a one stop shop for anything from clothing and accessories to zero waste purchasing. Shop 10% off with my link! I do get a small commission if you purchase from the link, but I would not recommend them if I didn't love them. They rule. https://earthhero.com?ref=
Holistic Habitat: Socially Conscious Home Decor
Buy Me Once- this website is awesome! They research products that are durable, built to last, and you won't have to purchase multiple times over your life- thus reducing throw away culture attitude. Woo!
Food: Misfits Market - they take produce that would have otherwise been wasted due to irregularities and deliver it to you for a reduced price! I have been using them for a couple months now and I'm obsessed. Get 25% off with this link if you want to try it out- http://misfitsmarket.refr.cc/chelsealay
Thrive Market- an online membership market that focuses on selling organic, non-GMO, and sustainable food and other products.
*Shop the bulk bins at your local grocery store and bring your bags back to re-fill them.
*See where you can reduce your plastic consumption in your food purchasing- less individual snack bags, cases of drinks, condiments, produce, etc.
3.) Do Your Part
Doing your part entails figuring out easy ways you can be more eco-friendly at home and in life.
- Recycle correctly
- Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store
- Adopt a more plant based diet (it warranted repeating).
- Start composting or look into a composting service
- Reduce single use plastic consumption (Keurig machines, water bottles, plastic baggies, plastic wrap, single serve food items)
- Reducing consumption (Do you really need Starbucks to-go every day? That plastic top will be on Earth forever!)
- Changing your shopping habits. No, you don't need the damn thing from Target. Put it down and get the hell outta there!
- Check out the Simple Swaps section of my blog and the Story Highlights on my Instagram page for more ideas!
4.) Donate Time or Money
-Is there a local organization in your city that focuses on cleaning up/beautification? Get involved! If you are local to Cincinnati, check out Keep Cincinnati Beautiful to donate time or money.
-Get with a neighbor and adopt your street for litter clean up.
-Super easy alert! Download Ecosia as your web browser and they will plant trees for your web searches. They are also completely transparent with their money and don't sell your data to advertisers.
-Find a conservation group or inquire at a nature center for ways to get involved.
If you would like to donate monetary resources, I really like these organizations:
5.) Get Involved Locally
There are so many ways you can get involved in your neighborhood or city!
- Start a community or back yard garden- give extra produce to neighbors!
- Organize a litter pick up group
- Teach your kids sustainable lifestyle practices
- Plant a wildflower garden in your yard for pollinators
- Attend community council meetings
- Kids clothing and toy swaps with your friends
- Research where politicians stand on issues regarding the earth and climate change. Vote accordingly in local and national elections.
Getting involved locally is a butterfly effect. It's these smaller grassroots movements that will gain traction and move outward in our world.
I know this was a long post, but this is a subject I am obviously super passionate about. We must change our habits now if we want future generations to enjoy the beauty of nature and the wildlife in this world. The biggest takeaway is to vote with your dollar. With each purchase you are casting a vote on how you want this world to run- it is that important. If big companies do not see that it is ridiculous for them to pillage our Earth when it is our Earth's resources they need to grow their company, then we must show them.
What is one change you can commit to TODAY, no matter how small? Reusable bags, less meat, reusable bottle, cleaning up trash? Let me know in the comments below!