Cows produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm. The dairy industry is responsible for 2% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
It takes 144 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.
In addition to the climate-related risks, dairy farming is a huge animal welfare issue. Dairy cows are treated inhumanely, even when they live on supposedly “humane” farms. In order to make them produce a lot of milk year-round, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated. The babies that they have are taken from their mothers, usually when they’re only a few days old. Many of the calves that won’t be useful in the future for their milk are killed for either veal or cheap beef.
For the next two weeks, drink plant-based milk instead of dairy milk. Some alternatives to dairy milk include almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk.
Sources“Dairy.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/industries/dairy.
“ELimu: Resources and Economic Activities.” ELimu | Resources and Economic Activities, learn.e-limu.org/topic/view/?c=48&t=274
“Milk's Impact on the Environment.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, 2019, www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/winter-2019/articles/milk-s-impact-on-the-environment.
“What about Humanely Raised Milk and Dairy Products?” Free From Harm, 10 Sept. 2016, freefromharm.org/farm-animal-welfare/what-about-humanely-raised-milk-and-dairy-products/.
Kitchen sponges are unhealthy both for the environment and for the humans who use them. They’re synthetic, which means that they’re made of plastic. Plastic is always bad news, but sponges are rarely thought of as a large problem.
Sponges contain polyurethane and triclosan, chemicals that should not come into contact with anything people will be eating with or off of. They are also dyed blue with cheap dyes, which are also full of chemicals.
Keeping a sponge for a long time to reduce waste is not the solution. It’s not healthy to use a dirty sponge because bacteria builds up over time, which can make you sick.
Level One - Largest amount of waste, least amount of money
For two weeks, use a dishcloth or a rag instead of a sponge. Fabric doesn’t have the same cleaning effect as a sponge, but it still works well. This reduces waste because a towel or rag can be thrown in the washing machine, and you can use one that you already have. The downside to this solution is that fabric wears out and has to be thrown away eventually.
OR (level one)
Instead of a sponge, use a reusable sponge-type cloth. If you don’t already have one, you can buy one for less than $5 at a lot of different stores. Even though this is buying something new, these cloths last longer than fabric ones do, and they work better.
Level Two - Zero waste, more money.
If you’re looking for a way to go zero waste in the kitchen, use a compostable dish scrubber. These can be made of coconut husk, bamboo, and other natural materials. They’re compostable, so when you’re done with them, just toss them in your compost pile.
Red plastic cups, a staple of almost every outdoor party, are, not surprisingly, pretty terrible for the environment. Obviously, they’re made of plastic, which is made of non-renewable resources that are impossible to get to without harming the earth. Although they’re usually recyclable, many plastic cups aren’t recycled and end up in landfills or out in the environment, where they become harmful to wildlife.
Each year, tens of billions of plastic cups are used in U.S.--9 billion of those are from the airline industry alone.
These are big numbers, for sure, but they represent just a fraction of the disposable cups that are used. If you add foam cups and paper (usually plastic-lined paper) cups, the grand total is 100 billion per year. In the U.S. alone.
For the next two weeks, don’t use any plastic cups. Comment to let others know you’re taking the challenge!
The planet thanks you.
If you’re hosting a party, use cups that aren’t single-use. If you don’t have enough of your own, borrow some from a friend. Guests can write their names on the cups with a glass marker or a dry-erase marker.
If you’re going to a party, bring your own water bottle or cup that you can bring back home and wash.
Every year, 50 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away in the US alone. According to eC02Greetings, if we stacked all of these coffee cups into a pyramid, it would reach 701m (almost 2300 ft). All of these cups go into landfills because they can’t be recycled, along with their plastic lids and plastic or wood stir sticks.
Even though most coffee cups are made of paper, they aren’t recyclable because they are lined with polyethylene plastic for durability. In addition, most plastic tops and stirrers are not recyclable.
For the next two weeks, don’t use disposable coffee cups (or lids or stirrers).
Comment to let us know you’re taking the challenge!
The planet thanks you!
Bring your own travel mug or coffee cup to your favorite coffee shop! Coffee shops often sell reusable cups and mugs, and many will give you a discount for bringing your own.
Cling wrap is one of the most common items made to wrap food, but it’s single use plastic. While aluminum foil might seem like a more eco-friendly alternative, it’s actually just as bad, if not worse, than cling wrap.
Plastic wrap is commonly made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or linear LDPE (LLDPE). Just like with all plastics, there are major drawbacks. It’s single use, and when it is reused, it doesn’t work as well and usually ends up getting replaced anyway. Plastic is also made with non-renewable materials, and this type can’t be recycled.
On the other hand, aluminum foil takes a lot more energy to manufacture (almost 6 times the amount required for cling wrap) as well as uses resources that have to be mined. The carbon emissions caused by foil production and manufacturing exceeds that of plastic wrap. Foil is also more toxic to nature, where it can harm flora and fauna if thrown away and released into the environment. Foil does have its good points, though. It’s easy to reuse, and its impact is reduced with every reuse. Aluminum can also be recycled indefinitely.
For the next two weeks, don’t use any cling wrap or aluminum foil. If this seems too hard, pick one of the two to cut out for one week, and try to do the other during the second week.
Comment to take the challenge!
The planet thanks you!
Products like beeswax wraps (made of beeswax and cotton, compostable) and fabric sandwich wraps can be easily washed and reused. They can be used for both covering and wrapping food. Another alternative that cover dishes are silicone lids that stretch over a cup or bowl.
The amount of water it takes to produce one pound of beef could hydrate the average American for 43 years. One pound of beef takes up to 2500 gallons of water to produce. Chicken takes 500-600 gallons/pound, which is less than beef but more than alternatives to meat. Going vegetarian saves water, and also saves the lives of the 270 animals that the average American meat-eater eats.
Worldwide, close to 3 billion animals are killed for food every day. Most of these animals are inhumanely farmed and then slaughtered for human consumption. This is a horrible and unnecessary practice.
Becoming vegetarian is not as hard as many people think it is. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost four years and, yes, there are still meat foods that I wish I could still eat, but there are many alternatives to meat. As more and more people become vegetarian, the demand for good meat substitutes grows.
For the next two weeks, be a vegetarian! If you’re daunted by this task, try doing it for just a week or a few days. You’ll find it easier than you expect!
The standard at fast food restaurants and backyard parties, plastic silverware is a favorite for minimizing clean up and costs. But, as you may have guessed, it is a classic example of single-use plastic.
Single-use plastic (designed to be used once) is common in today's world and is a huge pollution problem. These disposable materials take a lot of energy and resources to make but are typically used for a matter of minutes. After they're thrown away, even cheap plastics can last for thousands of years.
In addition to being single-use, most plastic silverware is made of a plastic called polystyrene, which usually can't be recycled. From the landfill, it can pollute local ecosystems, posing a threat to plant and animal health.
For the next two weeks, don't use any plastic silverware. Comment to take the challenge!
Quick tip: Many takeout and fast food restaurants put plastic silverware in with your to-go bags without telling or asking you. Make sure you say that you don't want it ahead of time.
There are a lot of alternatives to plastic silverware. For parties, use your everyday household silverware and give guests a place to put their dirty silverware when they are finished. If you don't have enough, borrow some from a neighbor or friend. Or, if you entertain a lot, pick up a permanent set of party ware at a thrift store.
If you need to use disposable silverware, use compostable types. They are more expensive than plastic, but they can be put into a compost pile and help your garden grow.
Bamboo is a great alternative for many plastic products, including silverware. There are sets of bamboo silverware that contain enough for one person that you can take with you.
Palm oil is one of the most common vegetable oils in the world, and it's used in all kinds of products. This oil is harvested in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Africa. Palm oil plantations require millions of hectares of cleared land, land that was once carbon-rich soil and home to countless species.
When companies clear land for palm oil plantations, they are tearing up forests that, per square mile, can hold 99 million kilograms (over 218 million pounds) of carbon. By clearing these forests, palm oil plantations create the equivalent of driving a car between New York and San Francisco 76 times.
The danger of palm oil plantations is not limited to just the carbon impacts. Orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and many other species are endangered partially due to habitat loss because of palm oil plantations.
In addition to the environmental and animal rights issues that come with palm oil, consuming it is also bad for human health. When processed, it's known to cause organ toxicity, especially in the kidneys and lungs.
For the next two weeks, don't use any products with palm oil in them. Comment below to take the challenge!
Quick tip: there are different types of palm oil, so product packaging may list palm oil, palm kernel oil, or fractionated palm kernel oil. Many processed foods like cookies, crackers, and granola bars contain palm oil, as well as some cosmetic products like shampoo.
The planet thanks you!
Cars emit a lot of greenhouse gases, and if more people commute on bikes, emissions from cars will be reduced, which will reduce climate change.
This week, replace one of your car commutes with a bike ride to your daily destinations. Just taking a bike ride is great for your health, but it doesn’t offset any emissions from a car trip.
Comment below to take the weeklong pledge to replace a car trip with a bike ride! This week, also comment the distance that you biked. Who can take the longest bike ride?
The planet thanks you!
June 5th is World Environment Day, a day made for people to educate others and learn about the environment, as well as make changes that benefit our planet. Each year, the United Nations creates a theme for the festivities. This year’s theme is Beat Air Pollution! There are many different ways to help solve the air pollution problems, like taking your bike instead of a car, or, if you have to take a car, do a rideshare or create a carpool.
This month, in honor of World Environment Day, take the Project 5 Billion challenges that are geared towards air pollution, and come up with your own! Post photos on Instagram using the hashtags #project5billion and #beatairpollution and help support the planet.
Comment or post to take the challenge!
The planet thanks you!
These challenges ask you