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Would You Go Vegan To Save The World? New Study Suggests It’s The Best Option

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Congratulations! If you made it here to read this article it likely means you are a vegan, vegetarian, follow a plant-based diet or are at least legitimately interested in what you can do to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Thank you!

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Veganism has been on the rise over the past decade or so, and for good reason! Many people are starting to learn the truth about where meat and animal products actually come from, the health risks associated with a diet dense in animal protein and the profoundly devastating effects that modern agriculture and factory farming is taking on our environment. I always say, if you can’t do it for the animals, and you can’t do it for yourself — do it for the planet!

So How Does A Vegan Lifestyle Protect Our Environment?

Researchers at the University of Oxford published a study that showed how cutting out meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individuals carbon footprint by as much as 73 percent — times that by 7.6 billion.

On top of that, the researchers also found that if everyone in the world simply stopped consuming these foods altogether, the global farmland that is currently in use could be reduced by 75% — an area equivalent to the size of the United States, China and the entire European Union combined. And here we are worrying about overpopulation. This shift in diet and lifestyle would not only result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions but also free up huge amounts of land lost to animal agriculture — one of the main causes for an alarming rate of wildlife extinction facing our planet today.

The Study

Published in the journal Science, it’s one of the most comprehensive analyses available thus far on the damaging effects that modern farming and agriculture have on our environment. Data from nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries was included.

Findings revealed that production of meat and dairy is responsible for nearly 60% of agricultures portion of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Researchers examined 40 agricultural products during the study, which covered 90% of all food that is eaten worldwide. They observed the impact each of these foods had on the environment by analyzing emissions, water pollution and air pollution.

Lead author Joseph Poore said,

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.

“It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he explained, which would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy,” he added.

A portion of the research was aimed at looking at various techniques that are used to produce the same foods and found vast distinctions in terms of their environmental impact.

For example, cattle raised on natural grass pastures used 50 times less land than those that were being raised on deforested land — which can produce up to 12 times more greenhouse gas emissions in comparison. Compare this to the emissions released for plant-based protein sources such as tofu and peas, and you’re looking at a drastic difference.

Poore told The Guardian, “Converting grass into [meat] is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.”

This study is the result of a five-year-long project which ironically enough started off as an investigation into sustainable meat and dairy production. After just one year into the study, Poore stopped eating animals altogether.

According to Poore, the next step is to find ways to test his proposed approach in practice. He told the independent,

“The problem is, you can’t just put environmental labels on a handful of foods and look to see if there is some effect on purchasing,” he said.

“Consumers take time to become aware of things, and then even more to act on them. Furthermore, the labels probably need to be in combination with taxes and subsidies. My view is that communicating information to consumers could tip the entire food system towards sustainability and accountability.”

Some Final Thoughts

It’s important to know that we have a lot of options here, it’s not simply vegan or nothing. We can use this information to take action in our own lives and do what we can to reduce our own impact. You don’t have to go vegan overnight, however if this information resonates with you, you can start cutting out meat and dairy products to start with. This will give you time to explore a new palate of flavors and alternatives to your favorite foods. Also, even if you could never imagine yourself giving up meat, that’s fine — you don’t have to. You can follow a plant-based diet and still eat meat once in a while if you feel called to do so.

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Alternative News

IKEA Plans To Switch From Styrofoam Packaging To A Mushroom-Based Alternative

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Styrofoam is harmful to our planet, which is why it's great to see IKEA switching all styrofoam packaging products to a compostable mushroom-based alternative.

  • Reflect On:

    If more sustainable options exist why wouldn't we implement them now? As consumers we have a say in creating the type of world we want to live in.

The cat’s out of the bag, by now the vast majority of us are aware that Styrofoam is bad for our environment as it doesn’t decompose and, in its production process, leaches toxic chemicals into our environment. Yet, despite this awareness, it is still being used on a massive scale to package anything from your new flat screen TV to your late night sushi rolls. As consumers we can choose to either support the companies that are contributing to the waste epidemic on our planet — or not.

Thankfully, as awareness grows, some large corporations like furniture giant IKEA are leading the way and choosing more sustainable and harmonious products. No doubt these sustainable options will appeal more to the conscious consumer and even though we can’t be clear as to whether or not these decisions are being made because of a general concern for our environment or because of growing consumer awareness, it doesn’t really matter because, regardless of the why, things are shifting for the better.

Compostable Alternative

Ikea has announced that they will be looking to switch all of their packaging materials from Styrofoam to a new substance called MycoComposite, which is made out of mushrooms and other organic materials. This material is entirely natural and compostable; it grows within a week and will decompose within 30 days. It can also be reused if it is kept dry.

This was a product we wrote about 7 years ago! And here it is today, finally getting the attention it deserves.

The process to create this packaging material is quite simple really–from Intelligent Living:

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  • Agricultural byproducts such as hemp, husk, oat hulls, and cotton burrs are pressed into the desired shape that can fit around items as packaging.
  • Then, it is seeded with mushroom spores that sprout mycelium (a root structure) after a few days.
  • The mycelium threads rapidly through the structure and binds it together to form a shock-resistant and durable packaging material.
  • The last step is to heat-treat the material to kill spores in order to arrest further growth of the fungus.

Mushroom-based packaging uses only about 12% of the energy that is used in plastic production and produces 90% fewer carbon emissions than plastic/Styrofoam production. Non-petroleum-based packaging is just another step towards ending our reliance on fossil fuels; there are plenty of alternative options available, we just need to look. In some cases we simply need to put on our thinking caps, we are a creative, problem-solving species and no doubt there are much more harmonious alternatives for many of our current processes.

The SWOT Analysis below conveys the advantage that Mushroom based materials has over plastic.

Strengths

  • Biodegradable
  • Easily grown from agricultural waste products which are plentiful
  • Strong, lightweight, mouldable
  • Produced using less energy
  • No waste or pollution from the process itself
  • Inexpensive
  • No health risks

Weakness

  • Takes longer to produce than most plastics
  • Less variability and range of products can be produced
  • Not as fire resistant/good as Styrofoam

Opportunities

  • Replace plastic products as a socially and environmentally safe alternative
  • Research is ongoing to improve and create more products
  • Community development through GIY initiatives

Threats

  • Compete against already strongly established plastic dependence (suppliers, manufactures, buyers)
  • Opposition to fungus grown product, misinformed views

One Small Step Towards Massive Change

Just think for a moment, not even just about the hundreds of IKEA stores worldwide, but consider all the big box retailers like Amazon and ALL OF THE STYROFOAM packaging that is being used and where all of that ends up. The fact that technology even exists for us to use a compostable alternative should leave the other substances completely behind. Because why would we continue using materials that are harmful for our planet if working alternatives already exist? That’s a whole other topic, and I’m sure you already know all about the why.

IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, Joanna Yarrow, said this was the retailer’s “small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.”

Another Ikea spokesperson told The Telegraph, “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled. IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil-based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.”

Yes, it may be a small step, but just think of how big this step really is, and we can only hope that other retailers will follow in the footsteps of IKEA. Maybe it goes without saying, but we do have a say in the matter. If other retailers aren’t willing to give up their use of Styrofoam, then we can choose to shop elsewhere, and if enough people do the same, then these other retailers will have no choice but to change their ways. This is why raising awareness is so important.

Much Love

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Alternative News

EU To Ban Bayer’s Pesticide Linked To Harming Bees

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    European Union governments recently widened the EU ban on pesticides linked to harming bees after deciding not to renew their approval for Bayer’s insecticide known as thiacloprid.

  • Reflect On:

    How are these substances constantly approved in so many countries when the science clearly shows they are extremely harmful to the environment, and all animals and insects? What's going on here?

Governments within the European union recently decided to increase their ban on pesticides that have been strongly linked to killing and harming bees after deciding not to renew their approval for Bayer’s insecticide known as thiacloprid. The ban officially goes into effect in April of 2020 but after that, no more spraying is allowed.

The move comes shortly after the EU completely banned the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere in April of 2019, except within greenhouses. Multiple countries within Europe have outlawed them.

The recent move to ban thiacloprid comes after the European Food Safety Agency published an assessment in January 2019. That report brought to light several concerns about the substance not only killing bees, but also being toxic for humans. The report shed light on the fact that it’s present in ground water at already unsafe levels.

Bee populations have collapsed around the world and the use of pesticides is said to be the main cause. A 2019 analysis of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species in the UK found the insects have been lost from a quarter of the places in which they were found in 1980. The science linked bee deaths to several different pesticides and herbicides is abundant, and it’s available to anyone who simply does a quick search. It’s been published, and has continued to be published for a very long time.

This is a great move, especially given the fact that big corporations, like Bayer, seem to dictate government policy through their stranglehold on various governments and politicians.  This is precisely why it’s taken so long for these bans to come into place.

This particular move by the EU comes after sixteen member states and the European commission had lobbied against it, hoping to actually weaken EU rules on bee-harming pesticides. It was great to see MEPs block this move.

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We’ve seen this type of influence and corruption before, for example, Glyphosate, an active ingredient within Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was recently re-licensed and approved by the European Parliament. However, MEPs found the science given to them was plagiarized, full of industry science written by Monsanto, which was recently bought by Bayer.

MEPs found plagiarism in half of the chapters assessing published studies on the health risk, which means that half of the science came directly from Monsanto themselves, because the plagiarism was of industry science.  And what does the industry do? Jane Goodall, although referencing GMOs, hammers home the point:

As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe. (source)

This seems to be the exact same thing that has happened which has seen various pesticides and herbicides become approved over the years.

Unfortunately,  this is how our world is currently working when it comes to such products, so it’s good to see that it’s becoming harder and harder for these substances to be approved. We are making headway.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced their “emergency” approval of spray sulfoxaflor — an insecticide considered “very highly toxic” to bees — on nearly 14 million acres of crops known to attract bees. Crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are all included in the approval, and 10 of the 11 states have been granted approval for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approval for at least six consecutive years.

5.8 million acres in Texas are implicated, which is home to more than 800 species of bees native to that area. This also includes Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees.

You can read more about that story here.

So, as you can see, there is still a long way to go.

The Takeaway

It’s great to see more people realize that the approval of certain substances, like many herbicides and pesticides, is simply unnecessary and very harmful to planet Earth and all who live upon it. Awareness has grown tremendously, and bans like the one discussed in this article are a result of that awareness and the sharing/spread of information. Let’s keep it going!

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History Made As Ocean Cleanup Successfully Collects First Plastic From The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ocean Cleanup organization announced this week that their System 001/B vessel is capturing and collecting plastic debris in in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many young people out there with the desire to do good and have a positive impact. Many people have a strong desire to change the world in various ways, and that's an encouraging thought was we move into 2020 and beyond.

In the Pacific ocean, North East of Hawaii, there exists a giant whirlpool of plastic debris that’s accumulated by the ocean currents. It’s referred to at the North Pacific Gyre, but also commonly referred to as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” It’s one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, made up of millions of square kilometers. The Great Garbage Patch is approximately the size of Queensland, Australia, where an enormous amount of plastic is spread throughout the ocean.

Plastic pollution in our oceans is obviously one of the biggest issues our planet faces today. We must clean up our mother, and we must do it now. Plastic pollution has also created microplastic pollution. Microplastics are a huge problem, and microplastic contamination is now extremely widespread. More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans. Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25 tonnes of plastic particles exists in the oceans, most of them being microplastics measuring less than 5mm. (source)

All living beings within the ocean are also suffering from microplastic pollution.  The good news is is that the contraption below is also harvesting microplastics.

This is why it was encouraging when we came across news showing that after one year of testing, The Ocean Cleanup organization announced this week that their System 001/B vessel is capturing and collecting plastic debris in this area of the ocean, and doing so successfully. The system uses natural forces of the ocean to catch the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a principle behind the cleanup that was first presented by the creator, Boyan Slat back in October 2012.

The patch, again, is very large, representing a huge piece of trash that’s drifting halfway between California and Hawaii.

As the Good News Network explains:

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After discovering the patch in the 90s, scientists said it would take thousands of years to clean it up—but Slat quickly made a name for himself after he presented a TEDx talk in which he claimed that he could do it in less than ten, if he could get his special machinery built.

Though his claim caused many skeptics to raise their eyebrows, Slat dropped out of college so he could bring his plans to life. In addition to crowdfunding $2.2 million for his idea, he garnered millions more dollars through interested investors.

Now, the System 001/B vessel—which launched from Vancouver in June—is The Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt to prove its concept of collecting garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In addition to collecting plainly visible pieces of plastic debris, as well as much larger ghost nets associated with commercial fishing, System 001/B has also successfully captured microplastics as small as 1 millimeter—a feat which the organization was pleasantly surprised to achieve.

The Takeaway

It’s great to see so many young people with the desire to change the world. Often when one has such a desire, it’s easy to feel like you’re not making an impact. There are many avenues one can take to help create a positive change on this planet in the form of action, awareness, or many other forms that exist. The more people with the desire to see change and with the desire to help, the better our world will continue to be. Yes, there is a massive opposition in the form of a small group of powerful people with enormous resources who have been responsible for the destruction we have experienced. Imagine what these people, the financial elite, with all of the resources they have, could do for our planet.

Imagine if these giant corporations suddenly decided that deforestation in the Amazon, for example, would just stop. Imagine if those who control the law made it illegal to produce plastic and to participate in any type of deforestation? The frustrating thing is that this potential exists, and has existed for a very long time. What’s encouraging is that the people of Earth, like me and you, are starting to realize just how powerful we are and how important and significant we can be as catalysts for change. If you have the desire to create change, continue to follow your heart and a path will open up. Small change adds up, and has huge ripple effects. Don’t be discouraged.

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