This week I was invited to Brisbane to talk at an event run by a fantastic organistaion, Inspired Living Events. They screened the documentary No Impact Man. It follows the journey of a man who, in typical American style, is inspired to cut back everything in his life that has a negative impact on the environment for a year. A huge challenge since he lives in New York City!
So no coffee, no take away, no food from packages, no new purchases, no electricity or elevators or transport. His long suffering wife struggled through and by the end of the film, with skin glowing and kilos shed, embraced many of their new habits – but did welcome back the electricity and coffee!
To commit to cutting back on all our perceived necessities, all in one go can seem intimidating. Small and steady changes can become committed habits that last longer term. Our tips for lessening our own impact on our precious planet include the following:
Always choose quality over quantity
Find out where your food, and in particular, your meat comes from. If you choose to eat meat, consider eating less but better quality.
Organic and certified free-range foods are more expensive, which is reflective of the true costs of raising animals with dignity. Cheap meat is a fallacy; the hidden costs are borne by the animals and our environment.
Consider starting your shift by choosing one of the more intensely farmed animals, such as laying hens, meat chickens or pigs, and only support farmers that are doing the right thing by their animals.
Vote with your wallet
Your hard-earned dollars should go towards things that you believe in. I know I don’t want my money funding factory farming or animal testing or destruction of the rainforest. It’s not somebody else’s job to bring about change, it’s our job. Every day. When we are at the supermarket or where we buy our coffee from or where we choose to eat out. Our dollars can go towards farmers, producers and restaurants that are supporting food systems that are in line with our own beliefs.
Use your consumer power
Recent shifts by the major supermarkets to stop stocking caged eggs and to not support suppliers who use barbaric farrowing crates for pregnant sows are reflective of the tremendous power we as consumers have. One retailer has even vowed to not use caged eggs as an ingredient in their home-brand products. This is due to growing consumer demand for such changes.
Cut back on consumption
Organic and authentic free-range food systems, if they are to be truly authentic, can’t be expected to churn out product at our current rate of demand. That’s what has gotten us into this factory farming system in the first place.
There needs to be a shift in our expectation of the food we eat and how much we can have of it. According to the World Health Organisation, Australia is the world’s fattest nation, and has the fastest growing rate of childhood obesity globally. When it comes to meat consumption, Australians consume 3 times the world average and double the amount recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
If you want to start with one thing which can have the biggest impact on the planet and its inhabitants, it is to eat less meat.
Walk the talk
Wherever your passions lie – those things that make you stop and think outside the boundaries of your own hectic day and start a fire burning in your belly – there is a cause and an action. From factory farming to products tested on animals, genetically modified products in our foods, to sustainable seafood and palm oil products, these issues have environmental, human and animal welfare consequences.
Inform yourself about the issues you care about, instigate small changes and be committed. Join the growing movement of conscious consumers which is building around the world. It may not be possible to have no impact on the planet we live on, but we can all do things to tread more lightly.