Institutional Sustainability

I volunteered at the OSU Student Sustainability Center. SSC has Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) which is a student-fee funded, student-coordinated program for student leadership and involvement to create a culture of sustainability at OSU. SSC works for actions and campaigns directly influencing OSU’s sustainability, education on sustainability issues, and empowerment of students to tackle their own vision of a better world. With assistance from the OSU Sustainability Office and the Department of Student Leadership and Involvement, the SSI supports student efforts to create a culture of sustainability at OSU. This institutional development of sustainability assists, encourages, promotes, and advocates for movement towards sustainable future through connecting organizations within campus and community for integrating sustainability into every OSU department.

SSC focuses on sustainability of following areas:

1) ENERGY Making OSU’s energy usage more sustainable through shifts in efficiency, consumption, and sources.

2) Addressing FOOD sustainability systems used by the OSU community bridging people for their sustenance.

3)Sustainable use of LANDSCAPE at OSU.

4) Making alternative TRANSPORTATION at OSU safe, accessible, and worthwhile through education and advocacy.

5) WASTE REDUCTION for increasing the sustainable waste management of OSU.

I watered for the garden of student sustainability center which corresponds to the food and landscape goals of SSC. It was not a huge farm so it looked easy at first, but it took 2 hours and a half to water the whole garden except for the part that has own irrigation system. Rubber hose was really heavy to carry so I had to use my effort to move the hose without hurting the plants. However, I felt good about helping sustainability with my effort in addition to my personal sustainability project. The SSC coordinator said that the garden is recently renovated to farm better through giving more accessibility to each plant. SSC garden had various types of fruits, vegetables, and flower and they are grown without fertilizer. I tasted strawberry and tomato. Without using fertilizer, the taste, scent, and texture were good. Especially the skin of the fruits was so tender. I think this is because he did not use GMO which modified the skin of fruits harder to be more resistant to insects. I also learn that it is best to water in the morning because water evaporates quickly when it is hot and slugs come out at night. I think my volunteering in sustainability center relates to our course in that SSC gives awareness to students for providing information and vision about sustainability through educating about the needs, opportunities, and available resources. Offering volunteering and participating in volunteering also encourage other students to lead and take part in initiative through the role they are capable of achieving. Volunteering at SSC facilitates other possible volunteers’ empowerment and ability to take an active role in their own development as leaders. The sad thing was that I did not know the existence and role of SSC before volunteering. I think we need to inform and facilitate SSC for sustainable environment in OSU and in our community.

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The Final Thoughts

Posted: August 18, 2012 by Minh in Week 4: Final Reflections

Economic Impact

Feed me!

On a personal level, i did spend more on food on this project (~170$) than the last two month combines but it was totally worth it. This PSP changes my habit of buying prepackaged foods which is relatively cheap compared to fresh fruits and vegetables. Being a vegetarian also encourages me to cook more often. I used to eat a lot of junk foods such as Top Ramen or canned soups which makes my monthly spending on food very low (~70-80$ a month), cooking inclines me to eat better quality, and hence more costly food. Nevertheless, having a healthy diet could potentially limit numerous health problems and lead a good, happy, and long life which is priceless.

On a global scale, meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy, compared to plant foods. For example, in Population Resources, and Environment, Paul Ehrlich show that to grow one pound of wheat requires only sixty pounds of water, whereas production of one pound of meat requires anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 pounds of water.Or according to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein. A plant based agriculture is much more efficient in utilizing resources such as land, water, energy compared to raising living stock. Even though reducing meat consumption may hurt the meat industry as well as thousand of workers and farmers, i believe that that’s the most economically beneficial way in the long run.

What It Takes To Make A Quarter-Pound Hamburger

Social Impact

The main argument about the impact of vegetarianism on solving the food crisis is if the land/resources that was used to raise livestock was instead used for vegetables/crops, there would be enough of those resources to abolish world hunger. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation, the food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 as the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people. Shifting to vegetarianism or partial-vegetarianism from a meat oriented diet can have a tremendous effect in fighting the world hunger problem as the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) states:

Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.

Environmental

There have been numerous evidences showing that meat production creates great stress on the natural resources and heavily contributes to global warming. Here is an article i found on Time which includes an interesting fact that even animal wastes can be a major factor in global warming

In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — by comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of livestock’s contribution to global warming come from deforestation, as the growing demand for meat results in trees being cut down to make space for pasture or farmland to grow animal feed. Livestock takes up a lot of space — nearly one-third of the earth’s entire landmass. In Latin America, the FAO estimates that some 70% of former forest cover has been converted for grazing. Lost forest cover heats the planet, because trees absorb CO2 while they’re alive — and when they’re burned or cut down, the greenhouse gas is released back into the atmosphere.

Then there’s manure — all that animal waste generates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that has 296 times the warming effect of CO2. And of course, there is cow flatulence: as cattle digest grass or grain, they produce methane gas, of which they expel up to 200 L a day. Given that there are 100 million cattle in the U.S. alone, and that methane has 23 times the warming impact of CO2, the gas adds up.

Conclusion:

My PSP has been a great success and a personal achievement, being a vegetarian was both a challenging and meaningful experience. Becoming a vegetarian can be a long and gradual process and i am proud that i didn’t break my promise even though week 1 for me was miserable when i basically ate three things: rice, tofu, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I realize that the hardest part of being a vegetarian for me is not about giving up meat ( In fact, i have absolutely no desire to eat any) but to find the real motivation to keep me going. After taking this class and doing some research, i finally understand the immense impact of vegetarianism on our society, economy and environment. I will continue doing this project and I am strongly confident that my action will make our planet become a better place.

A Not-so-Grand Grand Finale

Posted: August 18, 2012 by Agustin the Cool Arrow in Week 4: Final Reflections

The Big Picture:

It’s been an interesting past 4 weeks air drying my laundry and and using cold water when I wash clothes.

How I felt when I first started my PSP (re-imagining of original picture by me!)

A quick recap:
1) Week One: Discovering the facts, mostly from the Project Laundry List
2) Week Two: Testing out my Laundry-Drying process for the first time (and making my first rage comic ever!)
3) Week Three: Trying to implement new ways to hang up my laundry; Unsuccessful.
4) Week Four: Finally starting to get things down and encountering new problems.

The problem I found this week came from my clothes themselves. When you hang up clothes, they act like a humidifier and keep the room warm. This is great for the winter, but during the summer, it’s not too great. It took me a while to realize this; I was really lazy and just let my clothes hang up over all the windows for a couple days. On the second day I noticed that my room was getting really, really hot, but I thought it was just because of the high temperatures we’ve been having all week. Then Mrs. Watson commented on my last blogpost on how my clothes would keep my room extra nice and warm during the winter (-_-) Interestingly enough, I found out that by changing your spin speed cycle on your washer will effect how much moisture is in your clothes, which will then change how much they will humidify your room (GreenYour).

Lower spin cycle = More Moisture = Warmer
Higher spin cycle = Less Moisture = Cooler

Another Comic I made! 😀

Every week I’ve been looking more and more into the subject of ‘laundry,’ and I’ve begun to find that there are many more aspects to it than just energy use. Did you know that there are both societal and mathematical principles involved with laundry? All three of these things connect with each other: society affects the way in which we do things environmentally, and the way we do things environmentally is governed by their mathematical possibilities (you know what i mean? hopefully?).

Aritha Van Herk, in her article entitled Invisibled Laundry, claims that doing laundry has had a deeper meaning connected to getting rid of the ‘dirt’ from our ‘personables’ and that women have traditionally been the ones made to do this:

“Relegated to this invisible but necessary realm, laundry thus bears the weight of the contradictory conjunction between cleanliness and dirt, appearance and effacement, the private and the public. Cleanliness is a display, a declaration, but the dazzling bodice and collar have been arrived at somehow. Dirt’s banishment is a mysterious enactment, laundresses over time practicing an obscure if challenging magic. In just this fashion have women in domestic service been relegated to the back door, their presence and their work erased to serve appearances, socioeconomic considerations, and sheer snobbery. Intangible and unmeasurable, domestic service internal to a household inflects the larger question of the importance of such labor to the economic survival of that household unit. How might increasing commodification have taken into account the value of domestic servitude? Anne McClintock, in Imperial Leather, discusses how the manufacture, sales, and increased use of soap in the Victorian era led to a commodity fetish: “the soap saga captured the hidden affinity between domesticity and empire and embodied a triangulated crisis in value: the undervaluation of women’s work in the domestic realm, the overvaluation of the commodity in the industrial market and thedisavowal of colonized economies in the arena of empire” (1995, 207–8). Cleansing with soap was an important aspect of imperialism’s “civilizing” agenda, but the hands that did the scrubbing were still peripheral. Housewifery, then, was consolidated as a career in the vanishing acts of making work and dirt invisible. And the fetish for clean clothes (white, white, white) accompanied a colonial imperative and drove a colonial reading of work (and not just laundry) concerned with “how to discipline the unsightly spectacle of paid women’s work” (McClintock 1995, 165). All of these issues reflect a deeply ambiguous relationship not only to domestic rituals and requirements but also to dirt itself.”

Did you know that there is also a proven mathematical question that goes along with the drying of clothes?

by Erik B. Hansen

This graph, by Erik B. Hansen in his article entitled “On Drying Laundry,” uses this model to explain the possibilities for why and how air-dried clothes dry from top to bottom.

But I did more research on the environmental effects of my selected PSP Project. Apparently, “Doing the wash in cooler water — 86 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 104 degrees — will shave the carbon footprint of each load by 0.3 pounds. That’s as much of a reduction as you get from switching to liquid from powder. The biggest way to cut the environmental impact of cleaning clothes, however, is to stop using a clothes dryer. Drying laundry outside on a line, Tesco says, will cut the carbon footprint of every load by a whopping 4.4 pounds.” (Jeffery Ball, the Wall Street Journal). So if I’m doing both of these both at the same time, I’ll be saving 4.7 pounds a load. If I do two loads a week (one for darks and lights), I’ll be saving 9.4 pounds of carbon footprint a week! And even though this is just an individual action, it could save about 488 lbs of carbon footprint per year. But in the Grand Scheme of Things, does this really add up to much?

Self Reflections

I think the most important part of the last four weeks doing this project was looking back at what I’ve done. While I’m still a noobie at blogging, it’s kind of like story-telling for me. I’ve constantly trying new ways to present my story in different ways: taking pictures, making pictures, making comics (the pictures and comics take a long time to make too) and finding new info about new ways to try things. Though it doesn’t seem to show very much of an environmental improvement each time I do a load of laundry, maybe it means something bigger down the road. After reading the chapter on different sustainable power methods, it occurred to me that air-drying clothes is a form of wind energy. On the last day of class we talked in our groups about our PSPs, and we asked ourselves “Why not try each other’s projects?” And why not? All the trail-and-error’s have been posted up on these blogs, so how much more effort would we be putting in by checking out each other’s assignments and then implementing them in our lives? Maybe the reason that we don’t need a Grand Finale for our last post is because it’s not a Finale: It’s a beginning.

Ball, J. (n.d.). Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122304950601802565.html

http://www.greenyour.com

Hansen, E. B. (1992). On Drying of Laundry. SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, 52(5), 1360–1369.

McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context. New York: Routledge.

van Herk, A. (2002). Invisibled Laundry. Signs27(3), 893–900.

I put in a couple hours of work at SAGE garden for my Institutional Sustainability extra credit assignment. I’ve worked there before, and so I was somewhat familiar with the area, and the garden itself. SAGE garden is located in Starker Arts Park, which is just off of Country Club road, just a little west of Corvallis. Sage garden is a beautiful community garden that has been around for years and years. SAGE garden is run through the Corvallis Environmental Center. 

The garden donates all of its food to local food banks, and they also provide educational programs for little kids. Its important for kids to learn how their food is grown, they get really excited about healthy food when they see it growing. SAGE runs a group work party every Tuesday night from 4-7, and anybody can volunteer! Its a bunch of fun to just walk around the garden and look at all the beautiful vegetables, taking part in the gardening is very gratifying.

When I went to the work party last Tuesday, there were a few other students from the sustainability class. It was really neat to meet the other students and work with them for awhile in the garden. Chris was the volunteer coordinator for the work party that night. Chris was in charge of assigning us all tasks to do for the evening. He assigned me the job of working with a tool called a broadfork. A broadfork is a tool that is used to break up a garden bed in preparation for planting. It is less damaging to the soil composition than a roto-tiller. Using the broadfork is a great work out, at the same time rather meditative.

My experience at SAGE garden was a good one, and I plan on returning whenever I have free time on a Tuesday night. I live really close to the garden, so I really have no excuse not to go out and work for a little while. It feels good to work in a garden knowing that the food grown there is used to feed people in need.

volunteering in the community
Sustainability for the Common Good
Geo 300 Oregon State University
August 16,2012
TEACHING ART ECOLOGY TO CHILDREN

About:
Avery Nature House is a program of the Corvallis Environmental Center,  providing a broad-based environmental education program for all ages, designed to help discover your connection with nature, your place in the ecosystem, and your part in a sustainable community

Mission Statement:
The mission of the Corvallis Environmental Center is to provide learning opportunities and technical outreach to Corvallis area residents and businesses, giving them tools to pursue ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable practices.

Aug13-17   Forestry Adventure-extended day 9am-4:00pm

Explore all that is involved with forestry and a complex ecosystem.
Tuesday – Bus trip to Oregon Gardens Forest (Sponsored by OFRI)
Wednesday-  Bike to OSU Forestry Labs
Thursday – Bus trip to Starker Forest (Sponsored by Starker)
Friday – Meet at Peavy Arboretum – this is the one I volunteered at Aug. 16, 2012

Avery House Nature Center Environmental Summer Camp
children studying forest ecology at Peavy Arboretum

Netting waterbugs is fun!

LOVE FOR INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING

I’m a Fine Arts/ Education major at OSU and I love teaching art to kids.  I especially love interdisciplinary learning, wherein an art project can serve to deepen understanding of other fields of study, such as environmental science..  A big part of art is slowing down to take the time to see things well, noticing differences in shapes, patterns, texture, size, compositional integrity, relationship.

As a lifelong organic gardener, I can say that the rich biodiversity of nature continually interacting with the abiotic elements, continually changing through the seasons has been my most inspirational life long art teacher.

I lit up at the opportunity to volunteer teaching an ecology art lesson to children for Geo 300, Sustainability for the Common Good community service.  I called Miko. the director of the Avery Nature House Center to see if I could volunteer and she was excited to find out that I have a couple of years of experience teaching art to children.  She told me about a camp group of 8-11 year olds that were spending the week studying the forest eco-system and would be out at Peavy Arboretum with a teacher named Tammy all day on Friday, Aug. 16, 2012 and asked if I would like to teach an art lesson about the Oregonian temperate forest ecosystem.

I said I’d love to!

Miko asked me what type and medium art project I would like to teach.  I said that I could have the children make a treasure map of the hike they went on, drawing with pastels and gluing on found nature objects to make a collage of the ecosystem complete with deciduous and conifer trees, ferns, trail, water sources, rocks, sun, and other vegetation and wildlife. She said great and that she’d be sure to provide paper, glue and crayons.  I brought along a couple of large boxes of pastels.

Creative Drama

I also value creative drama as a fun way to bond with kids so I brought along the Into the Forest Game that we used in class for our group presentation.

When I arrived the kids were happily Into the Forest Game with nets from the pond.  We introduced ourselves and shared what our favorite animal is.  Mine is my housemate Chris’ dog Sunny.

Then I showed them the food chain web chart in the forest ecosystem game and engaged them in questions about producers and consumers and how each species gets their energy and nutrients.

I explained that four different colored poker chips would represent four different nutrients that trees need in the forest ecosystem.  Sunlight, water, minerals, air.

For the first round they were all deciduous white oak trees that someone planted too close and I scattered the poker chips and some didn’t get enough sunlight or water.

Second round: still trees but planted farther apart.

Third round, everyone picked a card to become one of the biodiversity of species in the forest ecosystem and we studied them and the chart to see who was an herbivore or omnivore or producer and who eats who.  Then we went on the grass so that we could crawl around, pretending to be the diverse species as we gathered up the strewn poker chips.

One girl chose a turtle and she didn’t want to be too slow so she picked a different card and got to be a millipede instead!

One girl chose the death and decay card and ended up being able to eat everyone but then a mushroom got to eat her!!

discovery of nature’s treasures

ART PROJECT

Next we sat on the grass and got out the art supplies.  I showed them a cool board game with an ecosystem on it and suggested that everyone make their own treasure map of the hike they went on today and  let all of the trees, water, ferns etc. be the treasure and think of a creative way to turn it into a game or map to show your mom and dad or a friend about things that you saw in the forest.

I asked them if anyone knows what a conifer tree is and what kind did they see on their hike.  Some answered that conifers have needles and cones and douglas fir is the most common conifer species here in Corvallis. Then we talked about local deciduous trees like white oak and big leaf maple and how deciduous trees drop their leaves in the autumn.  We drew trees, streams,the pond with a bridge and the trails.  I asked the children to look around and notice colors and shapes and help me to remember what they saw on their hike and what they saw around them where we sat by the pond on the grass.  One boy named Ezra added some lumberjack logs that impressed him up by Cronemiller Lake.  A girl named Ella enjoyed adding the nice bridge over the pond. Everyone got quiet and absorbed into the art, seeing and remembering details and several got in to designing the game part of making stages along the trail with special highlights to progress along, turning it into a treasure map or board game.  Everyone had fun.

After we cleaned up the art project, there was still time to net for water bugs so they had fun to show me where they had been catching the best ones and were pleased to let me have a turn. We had fun watching the water striders and back swimmers.  They had collected several into a wash basin and were excited to tell me about them.

Everyone gave me a really big thank you for coming to teach art.

As a child, I really loved studying everything in the forest, ponds and rivers , so it was wonderful to teach art ecology.  It felt very natural that I would love to do it more.  It’s very rewarding to share skillfulness with children, nurturing wonderment, reverence and knowledge for loving and protecting our beautiful earth.

As I said in my group project, I think that education is invaluable for planting seeds for future ecologists and the consciousness and stewardship needed for sustainability.  When children bond with the biodiversity of nature early, they take it to heart and naturally care for it.  Ecological relationships are so wonderful to gain deeper knowledge of the beautiful efficiencies of nature.  If you want to design something super efficiently, just comprehend nature better.

Too tired…

Posted: August 18, 2012 by grogknobb in Week 4: Final Reflections

So today my 5-8:30 shift turned into 3pm to 2am, and now I now that I finally get a chance to sit  and write, all I can think about is taking a hot shower, microwaving a hot pocket and going to sleep.

Therein lies the problem.

After four weeks of doing my best (or some approximation thereof) to eliminate individually packaged foods and garbage heavy eating, I have learned one thing; my lifestyle is simply not conducive to sustainable snacking.

I also feel like I am not alone. In a 2000 study of stress effects on college students, student researchers at Linfield College found that over 71% of respondents had consumed some form of “junk food” in the last 24 hours. (Source) The percent also showed a direct correlation between stress levels and unhealthy eating habits. The truth is that eating poorly is a common response to the stresses present in adult life, and coupled with the inherently unstable and frantic qualities of student living, junk foods provide a calming outlet as well as a predictable experience and a convenient alternative to the unnecessary hassle of food preparation. While it may sound as if I’ve strayed from garbage to obesity, but the point I’m driving at is that these types of food are the chief culprit in the epidemic of unfortunately convenient packaging. 

 

 

That last one was the epitome of clever.

 

The point is that between school and work, group meetings some excuse for a social life, the number of times I will be predictably home, hungry, and have the willpower to cook something from scratch can be counted on one hand.

That’s not a lot of times.

I need for my food to be as accessible and modular as possible to fit both the amount of time I have and the quantity of food I desire.

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables has an element of risk to it. I cannot guarantee that by the time I have the inclination to eat them, they won’t have rotted.

 

I cannot, if you’ll excuse my forcing this in here, sustain this pledge. I have little doubt that my tastes and lifestyle will shift over the next few years, naturally curving me towards more sustainable practices, but for the time being, I need to do what’s best for me.

As tragic as that sounds, I believe that this particular issue will far to the private manufacturing sector to remedy. The time is right for distribution channels everywhere to make a move towards biodegradable packing materials and ecologically sustainable transportation alternatives.

For safety’s sake I had better address the prompt more directly. One of the reasons I son’t have plans to continue with my PSP is that in almost every respect, it will have no measurable effect on anything. To say that the reduction of my trash footprint is a “drop in the ocean” would be a gross overstatement of its impact. Were the world to adopt the same philosophy (the one about activism, not the one about pessimism), that would change the story considerably.

What I will do is approach my life with a new tint to my own personal lens. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully ignore the invisible tragedy that is the candy aisle of the mini-mart or the horror of the brimming trashcans of fast food joints. That doesn’t mean I won’t patronize these places, just that this new source of first world guilt might give me pause in the future. I can’t promise that I’ll change, but I can solemnly swear that I’ll feel bad about that fact.

Now that I’m about to hit send, I think I’ll pop out the the 7-11 for a snack. One slice of pizza, because if I were to get a hotdog, the bun would come in a tiny plastic wrapper, and that’s just a little more hypocrisy than I can stand right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two final, unrelated notes: Citing sources in a reflection piece is something I found difficult. It might just be that I haven’t had to cite a source in the last three or four years (business major etc) but this was a struggle for me.

Second, and I can find no organic way to work this into anything, this show on the BBC is all about challenging preconceptions (kinda) and is the most worthwhile thing that I have ever watched. After finding this clip randomly, I immediately acquired all 8 seasons.

Weekly Update

3 Weeks down! This has definitely been an interesting culinary adventure, and one that I hope to continue doing!

Just finished the last of my summer classes, and boy have they been keeping me busy. The workload can make it quite hard to make dinners, and generally vegetarian dinners take a little bit of time to prepare. There isn’t much available for quick dinners, and this poses a pretty big challenge, because I will be just as busy once fall term classes start in September. It is very likely that I am not alone with this problem, and to that end I am going to share some of my quick and easy recipes that I have used thus far.

Gross, M. A. (2012).
1 Box Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
Spices to taste with: Lemon Pepper

One benefit that I have already said a ‘million times’ is how delicious these meals are! Another one is that my overall eating habits have improved significantly, a lot of this likely has to do with the fact that I am paying attention to what I eat; something that turns out to be easier than I had thought previously. In addition to these reasons there are innumerable environmental, economic, and social reasons and all this helps me stay on track for my PSP.

Gross, M. A. (2012).
2 Cucumbers Skinned and Chopped
2 Limes: Squeezed
Spices to taste with: Salt
Vegetarian Ramen Noodles

 

Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts

Environmental Impacts

On the environmental side I found a rather interesting article online that detailed some specific effects, if every American was vegetarian for one day. One issue with the article is that it does a poor job citing information or showing the process in which those numbers were calculated. I managed to find the original source material and then worked out my own numbers, which came out relatively close to the articles statements with the differences due to me accounting for only cows versus all livestock for simplicity. I encourage you to look at the math behind the numbers, due to time constraints it is somewhat crude, but I believe that it gives a close approximation, and is based off of factual data.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the United States would save:

50 billion gallons of water from switching a steak meal to a vegetable meal

3682 Liters of Water for Beef per Kilogram – 630 Liters of Water for Potatoes per Kilogram = 3052 Liters Net Change = 806 Gallons of Water Net Change per Kilogram * 753 Kilograms Average weight of a Cow = 606,918 Gallons of Water Net Change per Cow * 30,086,000 Beef Cows in the U.S = 18,259,734,950,000 Gallons of Water Net Change for Beef Cows in the U.S / 365 Days per Year = 50,026,671,090 Gallons of Water Net Change for Beef Cows in the U.S. per Day

  • “Water needed to produce 1 kilogram of beef cattle ranging from 3682 liters to 100,000 liters compared to potatoes 500-630 liters per kilogram… or the most water intensive crop – rice, which requires 1600-1912 liters per kilogram” (Maguire, 2009, p. 296).
  • 30,086,000 beef cows in the United States (How Many Cows, 2012)
  • Average beef cow weighs 753 Kilograms (How Much Cows Weigh, 2012)

902 million pounds of crops otherwise fed to beef cows

900 Pounds of Vegetation per Month per Cow* 30,086,000 Beef Cows in the U.S = 27,077,400,000 Pounds of Vegetation per Month for Beef Cows in the U.S / 30 Days per Month = 902,580,000 Pounds of Vegetation per Day for Beef Cows in the U.S

  • Average cow consumes about 900 pounds of vegetation every month (Maguire, 2009, p. 296)
  • 30,086,000 beef cows in the United States (How Many Cows, 2012)

1.5 million Cars taken off roads in the United States for a year, in equivalent carbon emissions

500,000,000 Metric Tons of Methane per Year Worldwide for All Animal Husbandry / 1.3 Billion Cattle and Other Livestock Worldwide = .3846 Metric Tons of Methane per Livestock Animal per Year * 25 Times more Powerful than CO2 = 9.615 Metric Tons of Equivalent CO2 per Livestock Animal per Year * 2 years from Birth to Maturity (Slaughter House) = 19.23 Metric Tons of Equivalent CO2 per Livestock Animal over its Life/ 753 Kilograms Average Weight for Cow = .02554 Metric Tons of Equivalent CO2 per 1 Kilogram ‘Steak’ (~8 oz.)Eaten in One Day by One Person* 314 Million U.S Residents = 8,019,560 Metric Tons of Equivalent CO2 for total 1 Kilogram ‘Steaks’ (~8 oz.) Eaten in One Day by All U.S Residents / 5.2 Metric Tons of CO2 produced by the Average Passenger Vehicle Annually = 1,542,223 Average Passenger Vehicles Taken off the Road for 1 Year if All U.S Residents are Vegetarian for 1 Day

  • Methane is estimated to be 20 to 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (Maguire, 2009, p. 286)
  • 500,000,000 Metric Tons of Methane per Year Worldwide for All Animal Husbandry (Maguire, 2009, p. 296)
  • 1.3 Billion Cattle and Other Livestock Worldwide (Maguire, 2009, p. 296)
  • Average passenger vehicle produces 5.2 Metric tons of CO2 per year (How Much Carbon Dioxide, 2012)
  • “Beef” is meat from full-grown cattle about 2 years old (USDA, 2012)

Economic Impacts

Economically speaking this PSP didn’t change the amount I spend on a monthly basis (~$150/month). So far I have spent $163.31 on food for 3 weeks, with enough food to last me 1.5 weeks. Even though I haven’t seen any significant drops in how much I spend, I am eating a lot healthier on this same budget, and there is also the potential impact of saving money in the form of less health issues . On the global scale, if everyone were to become vegetarian, there are some interesting implications; prices of produce will actually decrease and a situation would arise where it would be optimal to be partially vegetarian (i.e. Weekday Vegetarian). Both of these implications I go into more detail on the bottom half of an earlier blog post.

Social Impacts

The impacts of vegetarianism for our society can be immense, because it has the potential to help solve the problem of world hunger. I discussed this in another blog post but with a recent journal I read, there is more I would like to add to this. In this journal, the author brought up the point that even though you can feed more people on a vegetarian diet “farmers are unlikely to plant additional corn acres to feed the hungry without compensation” (Lusk, 2009).

This does not mean vegetarians do not have an impact on the fight against world hunger because it is an important step. It clears up land space that could be used to feed the world’s populace. The demand for this extra land will come as developing countries continue to improve economically, and begin to demand food at fair market prices. The impact of produce prices decreasing, as meat consumption is reduced, is another important effect; it makes produce more affordable for developing nations, and charitable organizations will have a bigger impact because they can buy more food on the same amount of donations.

What if…? – The Long-term Impacts on the Individual and Global Scale

If I continue keeping my PSP, the impacts are substantial; the following numerical impacts are obtained by dividing the previous numerical impacts by the U.S population (314 Million) to get an individual impact. For a year’s impact I multiplied the daily impact by 260 (5 days a week * 52 weeks a year)

  • 159 Gallons of water per Day or 41,340 Gallons per Year
    • 2.83 Lifetimes of drinking water needs per year! (64 oz/day for 80 yrs.)
  • 2.87 Pounds of food per Day or 746 Pounds per Year
    • Enough food otherwise fed to cows in a year to provide a person with a full meal ~85% of the year. (~836 Calories/lb steak, 2000 Calories per Person * 365 Days)
  • .004912 Cars would be taken off the road for a Year per Day or 1.27 Cars taken off the road for a Year per Year.
    • By not eating meat 5 days a week for a year, I am equivalently taking my car and 1/4 of another car off the road for a year in terms of CO2 emissions.

If everyone in the U.S were to become a weekday vegetarian, the impacts would also be very significant; listed below are some numerical figures. (One day impacts * 260)

  • 13 Trillion Gallons of water per Year
    • 890 Million Lifetimes of drinking water needs per year! (64 oz/day for 80 yrs.)
  • 234 Billion Pounds of food per Year
    • Enough food otherwise fed to cows in a year to provide 268 Million people with full meals for an entire year. (~836 Calories/lb steak, 2000 Calories per Person * 365 Days) (*For comparison, U.S Population: 314 Million)
  • 400 Million Cars taken off the road for a Year per Year

Concluding Thoughts

This has been a rather eye opening experience for me. I am very surprised at how easy it is to keep tabs on what I was eating, and at the fact that my craving for meat was virtually non-existent. I always thought tracking what I eat would be a huge pain, and that there would be no way I could give up meat. In some ways the second point is true, but I was able to significantly reduce my meat consumption, while enjoying the alternative foods immensely. On the financial side my food budget did not go up, and I likely saved myself money by not buying fast food while I was busy earlier in the week, both of these are very good things because this area could have been a make or break decision point.

It is because of these reasons, and many more, that I have decided that I will continue on with the weekday vegetarian personal sustainability promise. Provided I am getting enough protein, maybe I’ll see how many weekends I can go without eating meat, keeping a ‘record’ list to see if I can get even higher consecutive weekends!

How Many Cows are There in the US. (2011, April 25). http://www.quora.com. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://www.quora.com/How-many-cows-are-there-in-the-US

How Much Carbon Dioxide is Produced by Cars Each Year. (2012, August 17). http://www.answers.com. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_carbon_dioxide_is_produced_by_cars_each_year

How Much do Cows Weigh. (2012, August 17). http://www.answers.com. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_do_cows_weigh

Lusk, J. L., & Norwood, F. B. (2009). Some Economic Benefits and Costs of Vegetarianism. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 38(2), 109-124. Retrieved from http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/55529/2/lusk%20-%20current.pdf

Maguire, A. (2009). Shifting the Paradigm: Broadening our Understanding of Agriculture and its Impact on Climate Change. University of California, Davis, 33(2), 275 – 316. Retrieved from http://environs.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/33/2/maguire.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture (2012, August 17). Beef… from Farm to Table. http://www.usda.gov. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/beef_from_farm_to_table/index.asp