OUR IMPACT ON THIS PLANET
Over the weekend, my husband took me to a peaceful town called Prince Edward Country. We visited Little Bluffs Conservation Area and trekked down a steep hill full of wet leaves (I was hanging onto the rail for dear life). Hidden behind all the colourful trees was a beach. The shore was perfectly lined with grey rocks by the gentle waves without the help of mankind. In that moment nature reminded me that it has a way of maintaining itself if human kind respects it. For decades this has not been the case. Humankind has offended the earth in a destructive way and prior to the realizations of my own impact, I was one of them.
I was unaware and shamefully naive to the effects I've made on the environment. I thought by recycling and not supporting animal-cruelty I was doing my part but it was not enough. I was a Stella & Dot stylist who sold jewellery in paper boxes lined with foam and I sold paper cards where I bought endless amounts of paper and supplies to create them. I did it for less than a year and stopped because I realized that I was the killing trees, throwing foam into landfills, promoting the idea of excessive materialism and I helped the fossil fuel industry with the shipment of materials.
In December 2015, my husband broke the news about methane gas leaking from the thawing permafrost rapidly accelerating global warming. The scariest thing he said is that we will see the devastation of climate change in 20 years - that's in our lifetime. From that moment forward, I had a complete mind-shift which led to a complete lifestyle change. We stopped eating red meat because cattle, lamb and pork is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas. We became semi-vegetarians who only consume certified-humane poultry or seafood once or twice a week. We also made many other lifestyle changes from the companies we support to being mindful of what we share on social media. We think about every item we are about to purchase and whether it's necessary or if that item has an impact on the environment during its creation process. It was a lot of changes in one year and at times overwhelming. I gained a new appreciation for those who went completely meatless and dairy-free for a much longer time than myself.
It has been an emotional ride as my husband and I were ridiculed and judged for our choices. The largest challenge was the inability to relate to the majority and vice versa. But this was a choice we made for ourselves but more so for our future children. So they can live a life where there are no food shortages, water rations, droughts, floods, hurricanes, rough winters and deadly hot summers. We want the best for our future kid and if we kept living the way we did, how can we say that we would be great parents if we did nothing? During that same time, I started Christie at Home to promote sustainable eating featuring mainly plant based recipes with minimal meat and dairy. I use it as a medium to spread awareness about environmental issues and to promote brands that respect the earth in their practices. Trust me, it's not a way for me to show my cooking skills, it's purely to show you that going meatless can be tasty and it's not as difficult as you think. If a previous steak-loving carnivore like me can reduce their meat consumption, then anyone can. Even if you reduce your meat intake by 1 serving you're still helping and I commend you for that because you're trying.
Although it's been quite a journey, I don't regret it one bit. I feel full of purpose and physically healthier than ever before. I try to remind myself of this quote by Gandhi, "The good man is the friend of all living things.” We need to be that good man who respects all living things such as our planet and our fellow creatures. Not just for us but for our future children. Our kids will inherit a very different world than what we see now. If we want them to experience a life without more hardship, then we need to commit to changing our ways now, not later. I hope you can join me to help make that change by reading the below.
HOW DO WE IMPACT THE EARTH?
After watching the documentary "Before the Flood" produced by actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, I realized I needed to share this on my blog. The doc illustrates how human activity has rapidly accelerated climate change so much that we will see the devastation in the next 20-40 years, in fact it's starting now.
It opened my eyes to more issues that I was unaware of like the effects of Palm Oil also masked as Vegetable Oil. This oil is found in many fast foods, processed foods (cookies, instant noodles, chips), cosmetics, and house hold products. It is a huge rain forest killer and has wiped out families of orangutans. To acquire this oil, rain forests are burnt down. By burning trees down, carbon bombs are released back into the air with all the carbon they've absorbed for hundreds of years and this rapidly warms the earth.
The film talked about the effects of animal agriculture on the planet, specifically the cattle industry. Each time we eat beef, pork, lamb, consume dairy or buy leather goods, a powerful greenhouse gas called methane is emitted as these animals chew and burp. For every 1 methane molecule, it is equivalent to 23 molecules of carbon dioxide emitted into the air! It's no wonder the cattle industry is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. This is why my husband and I reduced our meat intake and substituted red meat with poultry and seafood as they release less CO2.
Lastly, the fossil fuel industry is the most conversed cause of climate change. In Canada only, millions of trees are cut down to heat tar sands, forcing oil to rise to the surface. This is only one of many ways to acquire oil but the most detrimental. The oil is converted into a fuel to run cars, planes and trains or to power our homes. Even with renewable energy companies trying to fight for a chance to compete in the market, the fossil fuel industry is secretly backed by larger companies and think tanks that only benefit from the wealth of this industry. However, we are seeing the rise of renewable energy companies such as Bullfrog Power.
WHAT DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MEAN FOR US AND IS THERE ANY HOPE?
As more greenhouse gases are trapped in the ozone, the higher the global temperature will rise. "Every month this year has been record warm globally. Several months early in the year were among the first ever recorded to exceed 1°C (1.8°F) above average" (Source: Scientific American). With each additional degree, catastrophic global events will occur in a more intense form: longer droughts, intense flooding, odd weather patterns, high heat waves, rough Canadian winters and intense summer storms. The rising temperatures are melting ice caps that act like the air conditioner to oceans regulating the currents that sea life and weather depend on. Sea levels rise causing coastal cities to flood - Florida will be one of the first states to go undersea if nothing is done. Permafrost is thawing and is now releasing methane trapped for thousands of years thus warming the earth even more. Coral reefs, like the Great Barrier Reef, are bleaching and the sea life that depend on it have perished or moved away. When we reach 3-4°C , the film illustrates that agriculture will collapse around the equator and we will not be able to feed humanity responsibly. Many refugees will flee from their home countries and food and water will become rationed due to concentrated populations. The future isn't bright but there is a small window of hope only if we act now, not later.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP?
These are some suggestions in how you and your families can help:
- Reduce the amount of beef, pork, or lamb you eat. Instead of eating these meats, substitute it with chicken or seafood a few meals per week. Or go meatless on some days. Your grocery bills will be significantly cheaper! Aside from environmental impacts of eating red meat, last year the World Health Organization stated that processed meats will cause cancer and red meats are likely to cause it. For more information, check out this article here.
- Cutback your consumption of gasoline and electricity. Take public transit. Try biking or walking to the local store. Ask yourself if you really need to buy a SUV when a sedan is sufficient. Or better yet, buy a hybrid! If budget won't allow for a new one, purchase a used one. You would save yourself so much money. Schedule your thermostat to keep the heat or a/c off when you're away. Or buy an Eco-friendly heater and heat the rooms you require (we just started doing this!). Think about transitioning your home to energy efficient appliances and windows or insulation. Use the toaster oven rather than the conventional oven. Unplug electronics when not in use and turn off lights in rooms that don't require it. Wash your laundry with cold water where possible and hang dry your clothes.
- Check for Palm Oil (aka Vegetable Oil) in your products. Look at the ingredients of cosmetics, household products, processed foods, etc. for Palm Oil and don't purchase them. There are other alternatives, check out The Detox Market for some great cosmetics and personal cleaning products. Use avocado oil for high cooking temperatures and olive oil for lower settings.
- Lower your usage and purchase of paper and plastic. Try to avoid printing emails or subscribing to hard copies of books and publications. Try to use less tissue, paper towels or toilet paper (it's probably the most frequent use of paper by far!) By cutting down trees we are killing the only tools left to help reverse the emission of greenhouse gases. Avoid using plastic bags, opt for the biodegradable option or use a reusable bag for groceries, etc.
- Reduce & buy only what you need not want. Before buying food or a tangible good, ask yourself if you really need that item (even if it's freebie) and ask how much of that item do you require? Does the creation or packaging of that item have an environmental impact? We are so used to instantly buying without forethought and buying more than we need and most of that stuff ends up in landfills or in our storage room. Less is more.
- Sell or Purchase Used Items. Check Buy/Sell/Trade groups online or on Facebook. Or check out bunz.com, it's a trade-based community for exchanging goods and services. I personally haven't used this service but it was recommended to me by a friend. You'd be shocked at how many good finds at great prices you can find out there.
- Reuse, recycle and compost. See if others can reuse what you see as waste (this ties in to the above suggestion). Compost organics into the green bin as much as possible even at work if the option is available. Food waste in landfill is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Research the products you buy and the companies you support. Look for keys words on packaging like, "Sustainable", "Eco-friendly", "Biodegradable", "Non-GMO", "Organic", "Natural", or "Recyclable". Read company websites to see if they make sustainability a priority. Avoid purchasing products that are not Eco-friendly like personal or household cleaning products. Support products that use recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
- Use reusable cups and bottles. How often do you buy a beverage in a paper cup or plastic bottle? Have you checked to see if they're 100% recyclable? Cups from Tim Hortons, Starbucks and major franchises are not because cups are lined with wax. Use a reusable tumbler or cup and you'll also save 5 cents per cup of coffee!
- Cut down on water consumption when not needed. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Wear clothes that are not dirty more than once to reduce laundry washes. Clean your dishes by hand when there's a small load and don't always use the dishwasher unless it's a full load. Take shorter showers.
- Be mindful of how you act and educate yourself. Every single action we make has an impact. Each time you buy a piece of clothing online or get takeout food, it has an impact on the earth in how materials are sourced to the packaging it comes in. Educate yourself on how to reduce your carbon footprint. If we all choose to be more mindful and wiser, that's one positive and collective impact made towards the better of our planet.
I hope you each are able to take something away from this personal post. Most importantly, I hope you act on it with a committed heart.
Thanks for reading,