Discussions of healthy, sustainable eating are becoming more and more frequent in current times. The consumption of meat is a big part of that, and it’s not all that surprising when you release just how much animal product, we consume each and every year. The average American consumes a huge 7,000 animals in their lifetime, and the equivalent of 800 hamburgers per year. There are campaigns and programs in place to try to reduce this, of course. Meat-free Mondaysare increasingly popular, and the number of people identifying as vegan in the US has risen by a massive 600% in the last three years. But what if there was another way? Companies such as Memphis Meats and Just say that there is another way. A better, cleaner way, but a way that still allows us to enjoy meat products. How? By growing meat in the laboratory.
A spokesman from Memphis Meats explained that “Americans spend roughly $90 billion per year – just on chicken. But while poultry products are delicious and satisfying, the process by which they are made is not. It involves environmental degradation, animal welfare concerns, and public health risks”. Lab grown meat aims to overcome those fewer appealing characters of meat eating. The meat itself is grown from animal cells rather than the actual animal. The cells can even be taken from feathers, so the animal is not harmed in any way, and the meat is not grown into a whole animal, but merely pieces of meat. This process makes use of technology that, while not new, is only now beginning to be used for the production of meat, and it aims to take away the negatives of traditional meat farming. Californian based company Just aims for its products to be cheaper, healthier, and more popular than traditional meat, but there are some things standing in their way at the moment.
Join Earth Day Network on Earth Day 2018 - April 22 - to help end plastic pollution. Plastic is threatening our planet's survival, from poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our streams and landfills. Together, we can make a difference.
It's no secret that the excesses of modern-day consumption are at the heart of the current environmental crisis. Overwhelming demand for cheap, often disposable goods is rapidly depleting the earth's finite resources while filling up landfills, producing air and water pollution, and littering our oceans with chemical-laden, non-biodegradable materials. Environmental advocates and economists alike increasingly recognize that an economy built upon continued growth in consumption rates is fundamentally unsustainable. To truly reduce the environmental impact of our consumption we need to rethink our approach to consumerism altogether.
In Part I of my Eco-Conscious Consumer series I argued the importance of supporting businesses that prioritize sustainable practices and using consumer power to pressure giant corporations to operate in ways that are environmentally responsible. But truly mindful consumption requires more than just picking and choosing the companies we buy from; it requires us to examine how our own consumer behaviors contribute to the environmental crises we face today. Ask yourself: How often do you buy things you don't really need? What did it take to make those things? And what happens to those things when they're eventually discarded?
Here, I'll explore the steps consumers can take toward promoting a closed-loop system wherein the earth's precious resources are used as efficiently as possible. A note of warning: being an NYC resident, many of the services and organizations I highlight are New York-based. New York is far from perfect, but we do have a strong coalition of nonprofits and city initiatives that offer a host of resources for living a low-impact lifestyle. For readers outside the Big Apple, don't hate – investigate! Find out what kind of comparable services exist near you. If the options are sparse, considering using the examples here as templates for your own eco-conscious venture.
Whether we care to think about it or not, every purchase makes a statement. Too often that statement is “I don't care who gets my money.” But we should care. Many of the companies we routinely hand our hard-earned dollars over to are the same ones who have polluted our air and water, exposed us to dangerous chemicals, and poured billions of dollars into lobbying against environmental protections. They are also the same companies who have created the false narrative that economic prosperity and environmental conservation are mutually exclusive goals. And while we may vehemently disagree with these company's actions, most of us, knowingly or not, continue to support them, often with the assumption that we have no other choice.
The good news is we do have choices. More and more companies, big and small, are recognizing that their continued existence depends on embracing sustainable practices; moreover, the wonders of technology offer a host of new ways to for consumers to learn about a company's environmental practices and to discover alternatives to polluting conglomerates.