How Your Shopping Choices Affect The Environment

Are you aware of the impact your shopping choices may have on the environment? Many people don’t realize the tremendous impact that agriculture and the production of food have on the environment, or that they can help lessen that impact with their purchasing decisions. Here’s a closer look at this issue.

Fifty percent of the world’s habitable land is dedicated to agriculture. Agriculture also requires the use of 70% of the world’s freshwater, and food represents a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture also is responsible for 78% of the freshwater and ocean eutrophication, a term that means polluting water with nutrient-rich substances. Agriculture also has an impact on wildlife — excluding humans, livestock makes up more than 90% of the mammal biomass on earth, outweighing wild mammals by more than 15 to 1. In fact, agriculture has a major influence on the majority of the 28,000 species of wildlife threatened with extinction.

Until relatively recently, most of the earth was wilderness, including grasslands, forests and deserts. Over the last few hundred years, however, as people have turned to agriculture to grow the food necessary to support human life, wild habitats have been replaced by farmland. About 1,000 years ago, less than 5% of land that isn’t desert or ice (considered habitable land) was used for agriculture. Now, farmland takes up more than half of that available land. The rest is covered by forests, while about 10% is covered by grasslands and shrubs and another 1% is covered with freshwater. Another 1% represents urban areas including towns, cities, roads and other infrastructure.

Livestock requires much more land than crops grown for human consumption. Pastures and farms that grow animal feed account for more than three quarters of all agricultural land, even though they produce less than 20% of the total calories consumed by people. Eating less meat and using plant-based alternatives could help reduce the number of livestock required to feed people throughout the world and lessen the impact on the environment.

Consumers can also make a difference and reduce the environmental impact of the food they consume with their shopping choices. For example, you can walk or bike to the store instead of driving. Buying locally produced food can help you reduce your overall grocery carbon footprint, as can choosing companies that use sustainable packaging. To learn more about what you can do to help protect the environment, check out the accompanying resource.

The Impact of Groceries from Green Rabbit, a provider of cold chain logistics services


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