The Way We Eat & Dress can Impact the Environment
Jul 25, 2022|12Responsible Consumption and Production
By now, we are sure you have all heard about Climate change. But why is climate change so important? - Climate change refers to the long-term changes in global temperatures and the overall environment. Although the climate has always changed and has changed throughout earth's history, human activity on earth is impacting climate, and the changes might be irreparable.
It has been well documented that since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change. This is primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas and our excessive meat consumption. The 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Report has identified that our unsustainable consumption and production patterns are causing the current triple planetary crisis. As a result, we are seeing unprecedented climate changes, increased biodiversity loss, and widespread pollution.
We must act now. But to fix the problem, we must understand the problem.
The problem: Food Waste
About a third of all the world's food goes to waste. And according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, if food waste were a country, it would have the third-biggest carbon footprint after the US and China. So it seems almost ironic that we waste so much food and so many people still go hungry worldwide.
Our governments are still failing in finding a solution, but more importantly, we are still failing as consumers. Every day, we buy food that ends up rotting in the back of our refrigerators. Every week we throw away half-eaten food, unprepared food, food we even forgot we had at home. Then, every month we go back again and buy more food, forever continuing a terrible never-ending cycle and contributing to the global problem. According to the UN, 17% of total food is wasted at the consumer level.
We need to do better than that.
We need to change the way we consume food, and those changes must start at home.
Plan menus as a family: if you know what you are eating for the whole week, you can plan ahead and only buy the things you need. It is so easy to get carried away at the supermarket and buy more than we need. But if we have a menu, we know exactly what we need, and we don't overspend.
Buy seasonal produce: We can cut food air miles and help local economies by buying seasonal and local produce. Look online for fun seasonal recipes and encourage your family to eat more fresh produce.
Be creative with leftovers: before you throw any leftovers away, think of ways to re-use what you have. Give them another life! Turn that leftover pasta into a pasta bake, or turn all the leftover fruit into a smoothie. You can also use apps like Epicurious and Allrecipes to make the most of your fridge and pantry.
The freezer is your friend: freeze all the bits of fruit before they go off and turn them into ice creams and smoothies. But also turn leftover spices like parsley and basil into little flavor bombs by chopping and freezing them to make them last longer.
Share with others: Sharing is caring. If you have too much food, maybe consider sharing with neighbors, friends, or family.
The Problem: Fast Fashion
We all like to look trendy and have the latest in fashion, but at what cost? How much is too much? Fast fashion brands represent a huge problem not only for the amount of waste they produce but because they perpetuate cheap consumption and increase landfill. They also often underpay their employees and work unethically.
The main environmental problems caused by the textile industry include water pollution, air pollution, and solid waste pollution.
The clothing industry uses millions of gallons of water every day during production. For example, to produce 1 kg of fabric, 200 liters of water are typically consumed: washing the fiber, bleaching, dyeing, and then cleaning the finished product.
According to some studies, the clothing industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and is the second largest industrial polluter. That is because coating, curing, drying, bleaching, and dyeing fabrics can cause many gases to space into the air.
Solid Waste Pollution
The clothing industry also produces lots of solid waste.
Globally, each year, about 90 million items of clothing end up in landfills. Additionally, Fiber lint, trimmings, chemicals, and dyes, can end up in landfills and water sources.
So, before you shop for new clothes, make sure you do some research about the brand and how they operate.
Look at the label and take into consideration the materials used to make the garment. Does it use organic materials? There are many problems associated with the production of non-organic materials. In particular, uncertified cotton can be linked to the use of forced labor and the widespread use of toxic pesticides. Therefore, aim for 100% organic when possible.
Consider buying second-hand. There are so many cute, second-hand clothes you can get nowadays. Also, a trip to a thrift store can be very fun, and you never know what unique piece you may find.
Clothe Swap with friends or family. Perhaps some clothes that don't fit you anymore may fit a friend, cousin, or family member, and vice versa. It can be a fun way to give clothes another life.
Learn how to make your own. Back in the day, our grandparents and their parents used to make their own clothes. It is a valuable skill to learn how to use a sewing machine. You can make something from scratch or customize second-hand garments to create something entirely new.
If you are buying something new, make sure you research the brand and learn under what conditions they produce their garments. There are some very good ethical clothing brands out there who are doing their best to put back into the environment.
Does your family plan their meals? Why not sit with your family and plan out meals for the whole week, including every meal you do together, which typically is breakfast and dinner. For example,
Monday breakfast: Orange juice, boiled egg, and a pancake
Monday Dinner: Chicken enchiladas
Then write down a list of all the ingredients - now you can use that list to do the weekly grocery shopping. And if by mid-week you find you have dinner leftovers, use that for lunch the next day, or if you have leftover orange juice and fruit, make a smoothie. Find ways to avoid food waste and work together as a family to find more ways to use everything in your fridge and pantry.
Tune in for our next blog post as we explore the impact of electronic waste and how you can help reduce your impact and improve your carbon footprint.