Greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprints … In today’s world, we’re well aware of the environmental impact caused by our modern lifestyle. And while some may argue that much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of large corporations and policy implementation to create change, as stewards of our earth, many of us still want to know what we can personally do to help. You already reduce, reuse, and recycle—is there more? Indeed, there is, and you can start right now.
“Eat Local” has become a catchy phrase lately, and for a good reason—sourcing food from regional farms supports the local economy and protects green space. While food transport accounts for a relatively small percentage of the average household’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions, buying local produce can reduce that percentage even further (and your taste buds will thank you, too). When you’re eating locally, you’re eating food that’s fresher, in season, and has not lost valuable nutrition during the transport process from faraway farms to your community grocery store.
If I haven’t already lost you with that subheading, there’s more you can (and dare I say should?) do than eat local. When it comes to living sustainably, what you eat may be more important than where your food is from. Here’s why. Agriculture and deforestation account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions—a large part of which is to support the beef industry. Not only do we lose trees to make space to raise cows for meat, but those cows also produce a greenhouse gas called methane.
Now I know what many of you are thinking – and no, you don’t necessarily need to become a vegan to save the world. According to many experts, you can make a difference simply by cutting red meat and dairy from your diet just one day per week. This creates a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that is equal to a diet with zero food miles!
By making just a few changes in the food we eat and where we get it, we can bring new meaning to sustainable, “green living” and collectively bring about positive environmental change.
The Hickman is a senior living community located in the heart of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Guided by Quaker principles and traditions that value all life and welcome diversity. The Hickman offers individualized care allowing older adults the opportunity to enjoy a productive life and to explore the richness of all of life’s possibilities.
Jennifer Singley, MGS