Climate & Food Pledge
April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. To recognize this milestone and do something really good for the planet, we invite you to join with your neighbors and the Sustainability Alliance in a pledge for the month of April to help arrest and reverse the climate crisis.
This Climate and Food Pledge focuses on the two food-related personal behaviors that have the highest impact on the climate. The Sustainability Alliance has researched the science and provided a simple calculator tool directly below. Play with the numbers for days eating plant-based and weeks composting to see how much CO2e you can save (CO2e is explained in “What Is CO2e” at the bottom of this page). Next, fill out and submit the pledge form and get started saving the planet! Then enjoy each day of Earth Month, knowing you’re doing your part to protect the only home we have. Thanks for participating!
Submit Your Pledge
I’ll Take the Pledge!
Every few days the colors on the gauge below will be adjusted to show our progress in tons of CO2e savings pledged. Let’s green up the land and turn the ocean blue!
We may send you occasional updates on the pledge drive or future pledge drives, and you may unsubscribe at any time. But your email address will not be used or given out for any other purpose.
We Made A Pledge for
Earth Month 2020
(list updated nightly)
Mohammad Khalid Khan
Help, Facts, and Suggestions
What Is CO2e?
CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. It’s a way to equate the global warming potential of all the greenhouse gases in a statement or calculation. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the greenhouse gas we mostly hear about, because it is produced in staggering quantities by human activity and it lasts a long time in the atmosphere. However, when their effects are considered over a 100-year timeframe, methane (CH4) has about 30 times the warming potency of CO2, and nitrous oxide (N2O) is about 275 times as potent. Both of these gases, but especially CH4, are produced in large quantities by animal agriculture and decaying food in landfills, so eating a plant-based diet and composting food waste reduce CO2e emissions.
Crunch the Numbers
Not sure how to calculate your plant-based pledge days? Here are a few examples:
Reggie loves his veggies and already is completely and happily vegan. His pledge is easy: April has 30 days, so he pledges 30 days.
Mary still eats dairy, but never meat or fish; she’s a committed vegetarian. But for Earth Month, she thinks she can go vegan for 10 of the 30 days. So she calculates her 20 vegetarian days as 20 x .88 = 17.6 and rounds that down to 17. Then she adds her 10 vegan days to that for a total of 27, and that’s the number of days she pledges.
Brad eats the SAD (Standard American Diet), but his best friend Reggie and his co-worker Mary have gently convinced him to consider changing his diet for the good of the planet, as well as his own health. But he wants to try it gradually. So he decides to avoid meat and fish for two meals each day, keeping one meal for his normal diet. That means he’ll be vegetarian for 2/3 of the month, so his calculation is 30 x 2/3 x .88 = 17.6. He rounds that down and pledges 17 days.
Eat Plants for the Planet
- Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 18% of greenhouse gas emissions—more than all modes of transportation combined.
- Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 in a 20-year timeframe. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day—roughly equal to the amount from natural gas emissions.
- Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide—a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
- Livestock, or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
- In our oceans, animal and fish agriculture has already caused over 100,000 square miles of oxygen-depleted “dead zones”.
- It takes 1/6th of an acre to feed a person eating a plant-based diet for a year. It takes three times more (1/2 acre) to feed a vegetarian who consumes dairy and eggs, and eighteen times more (3 acres) to feed a meat-eater.
When you used the calculator above you might have noticed that the CO2e savings from composting isn’t nearly as much as from eating plant based. That doesn’t mean it’s insignificant; it just shows how ginormous the plant-based eating impact is. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that a pound of food waste in the landfill produces nearly a pound of CO2e more than if it had been composted (the actual difference is about 4/5 of a pound). Now consider that in the U.S. alone we don’t eat 30-40% of the food we grow for ourselves, and we can see how big a difference composting can really make on our carbon equivalent footprint.
There are other benefits, too. The finished compost is an excellent soil amendment for your flower pots. And if you use it in your own vegetable or herb garden, or if you mix it in with the soil around your fruit trees, you’re saving on processed and packaged soil conditioners and participating in the circular process of regeneration that nature has used for eons. And everything you grow pulls CO2 from the air and puts oxygen back. Nice.
Eat These Plants
- Whole grains such as corn, oats, rice
- Legumes such as beans and lentils
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes or yams
- Whole grain pastas and breads
- Whole grain cereals
Non-starchy fruits and vegetables:
- Lettuce, spinach, chard, and other greens
- Apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, pears, and other fruits
Nuts and seeds in moderation:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Herbs and spices
Eat Plants for Health
- The number one cause of death in the U.S., heart disease, is almost nonexistent in populations with diets centered around whole plant foods.
- A whole food plant-based diet can effectively prevent, treat, and in many cases reverse heart disease.
- Whole plant foods can also prevent and reverse high cholesterol and high blood pressure in most cases.
- A whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be effective in preventing and/or slowing certain cancers, specifically breast, prostate, cervical, kidney, and colon cancer.
- Whole food, plant-based eating has positive benefits for:
- Weight loss
- Prevention and reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Improved sexual function
- Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
- Macular degeneration
- Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis
Tips for Eating Out
Restaurants are getting more plant-friendly all the time, as the number of vegan and vegetarian diners rapidly increases and managers see the advantage of appealing to a loyal and appreciative planet-conscious customer. Chefs and wait staff are more knowledgeable about (and happier to make) plant-based substitutions; vegan restaurants are popping up and filling their tables; older eateries are marking plant-based options on their menus or handing out separate vegan menus; even fast-food chains are offering plant-based Impossible or Beyond Meat burgers to sell-out success.
Healthy World Sedona provides an annotated list of Verde Valley restaurants with at least one plant-based option on the menu at the end of each monthly newsletter. Checked your smart phone lately? The popular phone app Happy Cow provides directories of veg-friendly restaurants in cities all over the world, with user reviews. The VeganXpress app tells you what you can order at over 170 restaurant chains, so when your omnivore co-workers invite you out for lunch, you can decide your order ahead of time. And there are numerous websites with tips for eating out; here’s an example. Bon appetit!
Buy Local Food
We’ve all heard the plea to “buy local”. Sure, it helps the local economy, but it’s also good for the environment. Consider the food supply chain: the various processing and transportation steps that your food goes through from where it’s grown (or raised, if it’s an animal) to your fork. Even a whole food, like a head of lettuce, may be grown and picked with the use of farm machines that burn fossil fuels, individually wrapped and/or boxed, shipped at often long distances in a refrigerated diesel truck, and then unpacked and shelved at the store where you drive round trip to buy it. By comparison, if you grew that head of lettuce in your own garden, nearly all of those pollution creating steps are saved.
Buying local produce, like at a farmer’s market, is nearly as good as growing at home. The local farmer is more likely to be using organic and otherwise sustainable practices in growing and harvesting that head of lettuce and will be transporting it many fewer miles. And as a bonus, you can almost always count on it to be fresher. It’s difficult to make even an estimate of the CO2e savings to be had from buying something at the farmer’s market instead of the grocery store, because there are so many variables. But there’s no question that it’s a significant amount.
Menu Ideas and Recipes
There are many wonderful resources available with menus, recipes, and information on how to reduce your CO2e emissions with plant-based foods, maximizing your nutritional health at the same time. Check these out: