I grew up in a home where we cherished wildlife.
We celebrated our planet. We took in ailing animals.
In fact, on two separate occasions I nursed baby squirrels back to health to be let out into their natural habitat. As well as a few birds, a couple rabbits. You name it.
Our house was known a “the zoo.”
Our favorite book (that the members of my household know by heart) was Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.
On Earth Day, we received texts from our mother that read, “Speak for the trees.”
It’s what we knew. It’s what she loved.
We’d go for walks and she’d point out the wildflowers by name. She knew what species of each animal were endangered. Which plants would make me itch if I touched them. She was a member of the “Save The Frog Foundation.”
I could go on for hours. But, that would be counterproductive.
Let’s talk about our planet today, because it’s almost Earth Day (April 22) and it’s about time for all of us to remember how much trouble we’re in. Environmentally, I mean.
I’d like to start by saying this: I try really hard not to be the person who pushes my beliefs on those around me.
So, as always, take this with a grain of salt. Know that this is how I feel, but not how I expect you to feel (but that would be awesome).
I am not perfect. I am only human, as are the rest of you.
Some of this information is even new to me! But it’s always so interesting to learn more. This is solely meant to be an educational experience for you (I hope).
We can first start with our diets.
I am so disappointed with how many people (even good friends) rolled their eyes when I decided to try out a practical vegan diet.
This isn’t even about me. These are good things for all of us to keep in mind, even as we engage in regular carnivorous diets!
I don’t think any of my friends have to eat the way I do. I’m not even certain I’m going to be able to stick it out forever. But, I’ll always do my best to make the best choices for the world we live in.
Here are just a few reasons for everyone who asks the vegan “why?”:
Without getting into major details, here’s this quote: “For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.” This isn’t only true for the rainforest. Look it up. One hamburger.
Our land is being destroyed at alarmingly fast rates. WE NEED TREES, PEOPLE!
Aside from the amount of water needed to sustain the animals that we kill and eat (80-90% of water consumption in the US), the pesticides, antibiotics, herbicides and fertilizers used to feed these animals are poisoning waterways and creating “dead-zones” in the oceans. Increased ocean pollution is exactly NOT what we need more of.
Did you know that 82% of the world’s starving children reside in countries that feed animals rather than their children? Then, they go ahead and sell that meat to Western civilizations so we can eat it. This isn’t even about saving the animals. These are human beings.
We recognize coal, natural gas and oil as our main sources of climate change due to their extensive emissions of carbon dioxide, right?
Even with the three of those substances combined, they still wouldn’t leave as large of a carbon footprint as agribusiness. MIND BLOWN.
What Can You Do?
Okay. Again, I don’t expect all of you to stop eating cheese and steak. It’s hard. I get that.
But, there are all sorts of little changes we can make in our every day lives to help support our hurting planet.
Limit Your Plastic Straw Use
Weird, right? And so easy!
Single-use plastic straws (like most plastics) are non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to break down.
Because they aren’t being broken down, they are ending up in our oceans by the THOUSANDS!
On just a 20-minute snorkel, a diver in Australia picked up 319 straws. 24-hours later, she went to the exact same place, did the exact same thing and picked up 294 more.
Straws have an average 20-minute use rate among humans, which is absurd for an item that essentially lasts forever.
Don’t forget the damage these straws are doing to the animals! If you’re feeling up to it, watch this video. This is real. Our straws do this.
Use The Dishwasher
So, we don’t all have the luxury of a dishwasher. That’s okay.
For those of us who do, maybe use it?
Though it has been calculated that it is possible to use equal amounts of water hand-washing vs. the dishwasher, you would have to wash eight place settings (knives, forks, spoons, dishes, bowls, glasses) in just two minutes to equal the amount of water saved during an entire dishwasher cycle.
Carry Your Cups
Coffee cups. Water cups. Water bottles. Whatever.
Reusable cups/mugs have definitely become trendy over the last few years. Use them!
Food packaging makes up almost 2/3 of the country’s total packaging. That equals lots and lots of waste in our landfills!
Bring Your Own Bag
Basically. Same as up above, but with shopping bags. Use the reusable bags as much as possible!
I know that it isn’t always feasible. Convenience takes precedent a lot with our society.
But, when you think of it, the reusable bags often hold more items and are more stable!
You can keep one in the back of your car!
This is just skimming the surface of what we can do to help our environment, but it’s a start for those of you who have no idea where to begin.
And to those of you who say, “I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference.” Yes you can. Change has to start somewhere.
This Earth Day, remember. Love your planet. Love one another. Love yourself.