But how do you do that with the environment? Our planet provides and sustains life to all living beings. It provides water, air, and the resources that create almost everything we see, touch, taste, and hear. But humans have tipped the balance of our environment into a downward spiral. We are using and depleting the earth’s resources faster than they can be renewed. Growing pollution, swelling waste, mounds of trash in the ocean, and stripping of earth’s natural resources can only go on for so long before a breaking point is reached. Similar to us, how long can humans go without food, water, or sleep before we have to recharge and replenish to keep going. We can agree there are more environmentally friendly ways to live.
According to an article written for Saveur.com by Pauliina Siniauer, “Experts estimate that five trillion pieces of plastic waste litter our planet and oceans, including over 250,000 tons afloat at sea.” (Siniauer, 2017). The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now twice the size of Texas, my home state ("Great Pacific," 2018). This trash is detrimental to marine life, the quality of the ocean, and will cause further damage as the plastic starts to break down and create additional toxic waste. Marine animals are becoming entangled or ingest this plastic where it cannot break down inside their bodies. Which can lead to, what can only be imagined as, a painful and premature death (Henn, 2017). Excessive consumption, consumerism, and cheap manufacturing decisions are to blame for much of the trash that is littering the oceans and clogging landfills.
Acres and acres of forests and rainforest have been and are being torn down for use in animal agriculture and the farming of animals. The demolished land is also being utilized to grow soy and grains for the farmed animals to eat, mainly cows. “It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest is destroyed” ("Why Are They," n.d.).
Also, according to an article in the July 2018 Natural Awakenings magazine, “A pound of beef requires 13 percent more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than a pound of soy.” They also note, “There is no such thing as sustainable meat, and plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs take a mere fraction of the resources to produce as their animal-based counterparts” ("Meat Menace," 2018, p. 7). We are also losing entire ecosystems due to animal farming. This is not only causing air and ozone concerns, but it is destroying the homes of many animals that inhabit the rainforests. Many species are endangered or extinct because they lost their homes ("Rainforest Facts," n.d.). I mentioned in my previous post about the pollution caused by animal agriculture, but farmed animal waste is also polluting the land and water for residents who live near the farming sites. The waste and slaughter runoff is making its way into waterways and causing some land to become unusable (Wilson, 2014).
Then there are pesticides and chemicals. They are not only destroying the integrity of the soil and air, but they are also extremely harmful to humans and animals. Just this month, a court ruled in favor for a former groundskeeper that developed cancer after using a popular weedkiller produced by one of the world's largest agricultural companies (Yan, 2018). When farms or businesses use these types of harmful chemicals and pesticides, they are exposing the farm workers, groundskeepers, and nearby residents to the toxic chemicals. Many times these workers and residents do not have a say in what chemicals are used, when, or how often. However, we as consumers do. There are many eco-friendly choices for weed and pest removal that I will discuss in the tips that are coming up.
Don’t become discouraged and think we, as individuals, can’t create change. In the coming posts, I will talk about ways in which we can do our part in developing and encouraging a more sustainable environment.