“Never forget the power we have: the collective power to change the world!”
Institutionalized farming, increasing global meat consumption, discarded food, climate change and human nature—these were some of the crucial point that we discussed in part 1 of our Want Not series. Today we are going to emphasize the other aspects of our current, far from rosy situation.
How does our diet impact our environment?
As one of the articles of the University of Minnesota ‘How Are Food and the Environment Related? ‘explains’ “Americans demand cheap food, so American agricultural policy for the past 30 years has focused on providing large amounts of inexpensive calories. Two of the cheapest sources of calories are corn and soy, which the federal government has long subsidized and which make up a large percentage of our caloric intake today (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup or soybean oil). Corn is also a large part of the diet of the animals we eat.
Corn and soy are prized because they can be efficiently grown on vast farms. But growing just one crop consistently (a monoculture) depletes the soil and forces farmers to use greater amounts of pesticides and fertilizers.
The effects of pesticides and fertilizers on natural wildlife and our water supply are well-documented. Currently, the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, where no fish or other animals can live, has grown to 8,543 square miles, the size of New Jersey. This is due to chemicals in the Mississippi River, particularly fertilizers, as they flow into the Gulf.”
The unseen is much more revealing than the visible; we only need to pull back the covers and examine where we have not looked before. As an individual we see climate change as this huge monster destroying our planet, like some Godzilla. We feel helpless and victimized, we blame big business interests as the real culprit and we don’t see the power we have as an individual on how our families’ choices could lead to an improvement of our planet.
We have to talk about the changes we have done with others. It is not enough to avoid McDonald’s because of their single use plastic or how they raise their beef and chickens, and gravitate to A&W instead because they don’t use antibiotics and they have eliminated single use plastic. We must also let them know why we don’t support them by stating it e.g. on social media. If we just make the change in silence nothing will be changed. We all have our part to play and every little thing helps. Never forget the power we have: the collective power to change the world! Besides changing ourselves and our own behaviours, we also need to focus our efforts on changing systems by working with others and taking action. Finding like-minded people and work with them towards our goals as it is far more effective than the lonesome journey we sometimes choose to take.
Food is not the only thing that we should consider—it’s also our clothes or rather all those clothes that we don’t even use. Statistics show that we use only 20% of our clothes on a regular basis which means that—again—our consumption has a serious environmental impact. Throwing away so many clothes has enormous environmental costs that aren’t immediately obvious to consumers; neither are all the ‘behind the scene’ information about the unsold inventories and all those pieces that are regularly produced only to keep the production costs as low as possible. This creates landfills made of clothes no one ever worn but slowly we all pay for. It is becoming crystal clear that the fashion industry is contributing to the destruction of our planet; in fact, it’s considered the second most polluting industry of all the existing ones.
Fast fashion and its extremely negative impact on both the environment and the ethical behaviour became a highly discussed topic on social media platforms, especially after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Documentaries like True Cost or movements like Fashion Revolution then started to show the real picture and offer solutions for everyone who is willing to make the right choices.
“A United Nations report says that we’re on track to increase the world’s temperature by 2.7 degrees by 2040, which will flood our coastlines, intensify droughts, and lead to food shortages. Activists, world leaders, and the public at large are just beginning to reckon with the way the fashion industry is accelerating the pace of climate change.”
References and Further Readings:
- Denton, Carolyn. 2019. How Are Food and the Environment Related? https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/food-medicine/how-are-food-and-environment-related
- Segran, Elizabeth. 2019. Your H&M addiction is wreaking havoc on the environment. Here’s how to break it. https://www.fastcompany.com/90311509/we-have-to-fix-fashion-if-we-want-to-survive-the-next-century
 Denton, Carolyn. 2019.
 Segran, Elizabeth. 2019.