I’m currently having a discussion with friends (partially driven by my last post-Do No Harm) about whether personal action counts for more than corporate responsibility when it comes to impacting climate change.
There is a difference of course between how much an individual impacts climate change and how corporations are reacting to what the individuals want. I can promise you Evil Corp would become green very fast if all its customers demanded it. Case in point, plant milk. Old hippies and vegetarians/vegans kept asking for it for decades and the market complied.
So, let’s talk about personal accountability.
Of the choices with the highest impact that an individual can have on the environment, switching to a mostly plant-based diet is near the top according to this oft-cited study (you can get a summary and a great visualization of the results here). It’s not at the very top of actions one can take, but I feel that it’s the most accessible compared to, say, choosing to not reproduce or living car-free which depends on your local infrastructure and a bunch of other factors (and there’s also green energy, which I’ll touch on in another post).
This impact calculator of various foods by the BBC and these statistics point to the same conclusion. Beef, dairy, and shrimps are having a huge impact in comparison to other foods. The lower you get in the food pyramid, the lower the environmental impact. Which is a shame, because I’m sure you love your steak as much as I used to love shrimps.
But, don’t worry. I won’t go into preachy vegetarian territory. This isn’t even a post on vegetarianism.
Look…Let’s be pragmatic. No one can change their habits overnight. It took me years of research to switch to a low-carbon diet.
But I feel that I can’t sit on my ass waiting for the world around me to get fixed. Things don’t work that way. Corporations want nothing but your money. That’s the hill they’ll die on. They will burn down the Amazon and turn it into pastures because there is a demand they are willing to satisfy. Hell, they’ll kill people to cater to the market. No one’s culinary preference is worth all this misery and destruction.
Could you consider changing your habits bit by bit? Say, go meatless for a couple of days a week or switch to chicken? Would you consider cooking seasonally? Transportation plays into the equation as well. Eating plants shipped from halfway around the world won’t help the climate cause either.
You and I are the market. We make the rules. The best corporations can do is lie about what’s good for you, like that time they convinced us that cocaine in soda was an intellectual’s drink, or that time they convinced us that we had to propose with a diamond ring, then made us pay out of the nose for one.
I’ll leave a few resources below on low-carbon eating, I hope you can get some use out of them. Please don’t wait for others to save the day. Start with yourselves. And please write to me with suggestions on how to minimize impact on the environment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.