What tiny changes could we all make to reduce enviromental impact?

04 October 2016


"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.



What very very tiny easy changes can we all make in our lives that will add up overall to us having a reduced environmental impact?


We put this to zoologist Max Gray... Max - So there's a whole bunch of things you could do: making sure you've turned your lights off; don't leave the fridge door open too long when you're looking in the fridge; spend less time in the shower. There's lots of things that will make a tiny difference but the small things that won't necessarily change your life that much but that could make the biggest difference is what you choose to eat. The amount of meat you eat is probably on an individual basis, per person, the biggest single contribution to how much environmental impact you, as a person, have. I'm not saying everybody needs to go vegetarian or, indeed, needs to give up meat but just eating less meat. Loads of people eat meat for two meals a day, particularly will have meat during lunch and during dinner.

Chris - Why is meat so bad Max?

Max - It's because of the amount of energy that is required to produce meat compared to producing vegetables, for example. Energy initially comes from the Sun and gets absorbed by plants through photosynthesis. They create proteins and sugars and that's where you get the food from. The efficiency is better going from sunlight to plants than if it has to go from sunlight to plants and then be fed to an animal. The energy isn't transferred a hundred per cent efficiently and so it takes a lot more energy to get to a plant. And it's factored into the amount of water that is required to keep cattle, the amount of energy that goes to growing the crops to produce cattle feed, and that's before you even count the amount of methane that cows burp into the atmosphere.

Chris - But not all meats are equivalently bad are they?

Max - No.

Chris - I think beef is the worst culprit.

Max - Beef is by far and away the worst - followed by lamb, followed by pork.

Chris - So what's best - what can I eat with less.

Max - Chicken is roughly on a par with hard cheese. So cheese.

Chris - It tastes better though!

Max - Well, I don't know. I'd pick cheese over chicken most days, myself.

Chris - You prefer cheese?

Max - Who doesn't! If you're lactose intolerant, I suppose, they get a pass.


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