Viewing entries tagged
Sustainability

The Eco-Conscious Consumer Part II: Closing the Loop

The Eco-Conscious Consumer Part II: Closing the Loop

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. 

Does Being Vegetarian Actually Save Any Animals?

Does Being Vegetarian Actually Save Any Animals?

There are lots of reasons that people become vegetarians or vegans – health, sustainability, up-bringing, but by far the most common explanation given is a moral one, that the unnecessary suffering and killing of billions of animals per year is unethical.  It’s not a surprisingly conclusion, given the massive amount of animals slaughtered for food alone in the US.  In 2013, 8.1 billion animals died to feed Americans, and meat eaters will consume an average of 2,088 animals in their life-time[1].  Surely then, it stands to reason that abstaining from eating meat will save the lives and prevent the suffering of animals.  Whether this is true or not, however, is under some debate – and if it is true, just how many animals does vegetarianism actually save?

Calculating Saved Lives

There have been numerous studies and calculations discussing just how many animals are saved each year by a vegetarian diet – and the numbers vary wildly, from as little as 50 to as large as hundreds.  Noam Mohr, of the animal charity PETA, suggests that the average meat-eater in the US consumes 26.5 animals per year and that is made up of  of a cow,  of a pig,  of a turkey, and 25  chickens (which includes 1  allowance for eggs)[2].  On the other end of the scale, some argue that the average meat-eater consumes 406 animals per year, made up of 30 land animals, 225 fish, and 151 shellfish[3].  It is then assumed that a vegetarian, by abstaining from meat, saves the same amount of animals that a meat-eater kills. 

Organic vs. Non Organic

Organic vs. Non Organic

According to the findings in a recent Stanford University Study, fruits and vegetables sourced from organic suppliers turn out to be no higher in nutritional value than their factory farmed counterparts.  Moreover, these foods are often far more expensive than their non organic counterparts, leading some experts to conclude that consumers are overpaying for these products. 

Google+