July 13, 2020
Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern
1) If You’re Eating Meat, Look for Grassfed
The meat industry has been criticized for the ways in which it has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Some people switch to a vegetarian, vegan, or simply less-meat-heavy diet in order to reduce their carbon footprint. However, not all meat production is linked to negative climate impacts. Many farms have been raising their livestock in ways that are beneficial to the environment. Pasture grazing by livestock gives animals the freedom to roam while also sequestering carbon in the soil. By purchasing products that are grassfed or have the Regenerative Organic Certification, which encompasses “pasture-based animal welfare, fairness for farmers and workers, and robust requirements for soil health and land management,” you are promoting climate action and economic stability and fairness for trailblazing farmers, ranchers and workers.
2) Reduce Your Food Waste
According to the USDA, around 30-40% (or ~133 billion pounds) of the food supply is wasted each year in the United States. This contributes to the 18% of total methane emissions coming from landfills alone. There are many different ways you can reduce your food waste:
- Choose ugly produce! Just because a fruit or vegetable isn’t “perfect” does not mean it is unsafe to eat or any less delicious. By choosing the uglier produce that others wouldn’t, you can reduce the amount of food thrown away at the grocery stores.
- Learn how to store foods for maximum shelf-life. Did you know that celery stays best when submerged in water? That lemon juice helps prevent an avocado from browning? That a vinegar bath helps prolong the life of strawberries? There are some wonderful hacks to help ensure fresh produce can last the extra mile. Take the time to learn some new tricks.
- Use your freezer! Storing foods in the freezer until further use can also significantly increase their longevity.
- Keep your refrigerator organized. Having a clutter-free fridge will make food items more easily accessible and less susceptible to going bad.
- Save your leftovers! If there is extra food, store it in containers and enjoy later.
3) Start a Compost Bin
One of the biggest impacts of composting food scraps is the immediate reduction of organic waste sent to landfills and incinerators and therefore reduced air and water pollution. Around 50% of average household food waste can be composted!
You can compost at home, or you can look for nearby composting pick-up or drop-off services. Find your local composting sites here.
In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, call ahead to check if your local composting sites are open and how they are adopting safety measures.
4) Stay Informed
A great way to reduce your carbon footprint is to stay informed. Keep up on news regarding the environment and educate yourself on best practices. Increasing your awareness of your daily habits and their effects on the environment can allow you to be more cognizant of the actions you take. For example, we know that transportation energy is a leading driver of climate change, so if or when possible, choose to walk or bicycle. Small changes like these can have enormous impacts.
Voting not only affords you the opportunity to have your voice heard, but it can also lead to meaningful change. Vote for elected officials that prioritize a healthy environment. Local, regional, and federal government officials all have the ability to implement and improve policies that directly impact environmental regulations and climate change mitigation. If reducing your carbon footprint is important to you, make sure you are voting for public servants that share these values and demand action.
Want to know how Maryland’s legislators have voted on environmental issues? Check out Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ Scorecard to find out!