Our consumption patterns are having a huge impact on the world around us. Currently, 30% of the global extinction rate comes from international trade. How and where we source our products is a crucial question.
That’s because everything we source comes from raw natural materials that form part of the biodiversity of species. The greater the need for products, the more aggressively they’re farmed, at the risk of other species' habitats and food supplies. Currently, the food, beverage and agriculture sectors are driving 39% of extinction events. Species like the Nombre de Dio Streamside Frog in Honduras and the Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat of Madagasgar are high on the endangered list, with many more varieties of natural life on their way out.
It’s hard knowing where to start, especially with something as personable as our diet. But sticking to fair trade products that aren’t intensively farmed and following renewable practices is the first step. If you can, shop locally for foodstuff and find out where it comes from and what methods are used to source the produce. You may also want to think about the farming method used and whether any sprays or chemicals could be disrupting local wildlife.
The cost and practicality of finding alternatives can be off-putting for many people, especially when scanning supermarket shelves. This is why reports like this one from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) are crucial for changing how big businesses think about biodiversity.
When it comes to our diets the IPCC says we need to buy less milk, meat, cheese and butter. We can reduce the impact of our diets by simply choosing more sustainable foods — reducing the meat and dairy in your diet is a great start. Cutting meat and dairy from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint by two-thirds.
Sources: Science Daily, IPCC, University of Oxford.
About the author - meet Earthan James McCulloch
James is a literary student and environmental enthusiast who likes thinking about the better futures we could have (and those we best avoid). When not playing with other people’s dogs or taking long, mindful walks, he’s usually found reading and writing, often at the local library. You can check him out on his blog for something a little different, where he talks about all things literary or otherwise.