It hasn’t been the happiest way to start the New Year for Aussies. The last few months has been an extremely tough time for Australians as devastating bushfires ravaged our countryside. Entire towns have been burnt to the ground, 27 people have died nationwide, and in NSW alone more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed…and the fires are still blazing.
Across Australia nearly 18 million acres of land has been destroyed, much of it bushland, national parks and forests that are the home to our unique wildlife. According to an ecologist at the University of Sydney, nearly half a billion animals have been affected by the fires in NSW alone, with millions potentially dead. Slow moving animals like koalas and wombats were hit the hardest. Around a third of our koala population and their habitat has been wiped out.
Earlier in December the smoke in Sydney was so dangerous that the air quality measured 11 times the ‘hazardous’ level, which was the worst air quality in the world. Temperatures also reached record breaking levels, reaching nearly 50 degrees in some areas of Australia.
Fires are nothing new in Australia, but these fires, that have been raging since September, are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Over the recent years, fires have been growing bigger and becoming more and more destructive. Climate scientists have warned us that the intensity of these recent Australian wildfires and the scale of destruction is a clear example of how climate change is making natural disasters much worse. ‘The Australian bushfires were exacerbated by two factors that have a well-established link to climate change: heat and dry conditions’ says Stefan Rahmstorf, department head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. In Australia we have been experiencing worsening droughts and record high temperatures.
While there are many different ways these fires could have been ignited (natural and human causes), climate change is one of the key reasons why these fires have been so destructive. There is a definite link between these bushfires and climate change! These Australian fires are very similar to the devastating fires seen in Brazil and California last year.
The scary thing is that “We’ve only seen a tiny fraction of the climate change that we’re going to see in the coming years and the coming decades. If we’re seeing these disasters with a 1 degree warming of the planet so far, and we know that we’re headed for a 1.5 or 2 or 3 degree warming, we can only imagine how bad these disasters are going to get.” Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and co-founder of Pacific Institute in California.
There has never been a more important time to all come together and call for climate action from our government. A lot of people feel that the issue of climate change is way too big for their individual actions to make any real difference. There are so many things we can all do right now to help stop climate change. Even small changes in the way we live, eat and travel can help reduce our own personal carbon footprint and reduce our impact on the earth.
‘We currently consume more resources per year than our planet can produce in the same timeframe. It takes the planet 18 months to regenerate everything that we use in a 12-month period.’ The Global Footprint Network
There are some simple changes you can make to your diet and the way you shop for groceries that will reduce your impact on Mother Earth, and will help stop climate change.
EAT A PLANT-BASED DIET:
"A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification (air pollution), eutrophication (water pollution), land use and water use," said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led a new research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
The livestock industry contributes more greenhouse gas emissions globally than all planes, trains, cars and ships combined together. Globally meat production is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases, accounting for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to new research meat and dairy production also uses 83% of farmland worldwide, and is one of the leading causes of current mass extinction of wildlife.
“The way we produce food, consume and waste food is unsustainable from a planetary perspective. Given the global obesity crisis, changing diets – eating less livestock produce and more vegetables and fruit – has the potential to make both us and the planet healthier.” Prof Tim Benton, at the University of Leeds, UK.
The ecological footprint of vegetarians is estimated to be around half of that of meat eaters. Ecological footprint is a measure of human’s consumption of natural resources against the earths ecological capacity to regenerate them.
Avoiding meat will not only deliver big environmental benefits, it will benefit your health too. Eating more vegetables and less meat will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to a Harvard University study, substituting one daily serving of red meat with a serving of nuts cut the risk of premature death by nearly 20 percent.
This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to turn into a vegan overnight. Even making small changes like going meatless 3 times a week and eating more plant-based meals will help reduce the effects agriculture puts on our environment. Buy some plant-based cook books or look online for some tasty vegan recipes to inspire you in the kitchen. Try a new vegetable and recipe each week.
Buying organic produce and tea when you can will help improve the health of the planet. Organic farming is a far more sustainable way to produce food. Organic farmers are prohibited to use any harmful synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides to grow their produce, so they are helping to protect the environment. Organic farming reduces water pollution, and promotes better soil quality and plant biodiversity.
BUY IN-SEASON LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE:
Look for locally grown, in-season produce from your local farmer’s markets or community gardens. Sign up with neighbours and friends to receive weekly veggie boxes made up of fresh local seasonal fruits and veggies. Or even better plant your own veggie patch at home. If you don’t have the space, growing fresh herbs in pots is a great start. Buying local will support your local farmers and will help cut down on emission caused from having to transport your produce around the country or world.
SUPPORT GREEN COMPANIES:
The 100 largest companies in the world are responsible for over 70% of the global gas emissions.
Choose to support green companies that are doing the right thing by the environment. Support companies with the least environmental impact and use sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices. Choose eco-conscious brands that sell organic goods, and goods that are packed in recycled, biodegradable, and plastic-free packaging.
At Bodhi Organics your health and that of the planet is of utmost importance. That’s why we only use the highest quality certified organic teas and herbs in our blends. Our packaging is eco-friendly recyclable boxes and 100% biodegradable plant-based bags.
REDUCE PLASTIC WASTE:
There is a link between our overwhelming global plastic problem and climate change.
Fossil fuels are used to make plastics. During the manufacturing and end-of-life disposal of plastics, greenhouse gases are generated. Plastics are extremely durable and very slow to degrade so they accumulate in our environment, ending up in landfill, our waterways and oceans. A study found that plastic waste slowly degrading in the ocean emits methane gas and other climate-relevant pollutants into the atmosphere. And to think that a plastic bottle takes around 450 years to breakdown. This is only going to get worse as plastic production increases and more and more plastic is accumulating in our environment.
Avoid using plastic were you can. Bring your own reusable shopping bags made from natural fibres like cotton, jute and hemp. Keep some in your car, near your front door, or a purse size one in your bag so you don’t forget. Also avoid using plastic bags for fruits and veggies. Bring your own reusable eco-friendly produce bags eg. Netted fabric bags, or use a box. Check out your local farmer’s market and avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic.
Avoid using plastic water bottles. Instead use eco-friendly water bottles and flasks made from glass or stainless steel. Avoid using take away coffee or tea cups in cafes. Bring your own eco-friendly reusable cups made from glass, ceramic or stainless steel.
Avoid silk pyramid tea bags that are commonly made from plastic (petrochemical based nylon, PVC, rayon, polypropylene and thermoplastic). Not only do these types of tea bags contribute to plastic pollution, the plastic chemicals leach into your healthy brew. Buy good quality loose leaf tea or look for tea in 100% natural, biodegradable pyramid infusers.
In our next blog we will be discussing more simple ways you can save energy and water around the home, to help preserve our planets natural resources, and reduce our ecological footprint.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.