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How One Change In Your Lifestyle Can Save The Earth In Many Ways

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While we all understand that we must be more earth-conscious, the fact remains that most of us simply do not know where to start. Mainstream media, activist groups, politicians and the science fraternity alike throw across such a diverse range of issues that need to be dealt with, that it is easy to feel overwhelmed, confused and thus unable to take concrete action. 

The need of the hour is a few or preferably just one short, simple, straightforward change that can be followed without the need for putting in too much thought but that can have a massive snowball of positive effects. 

One Change – Many Effects

One such change is adopting a Plant-Based Lifestyle. On the surface, it might seem like a small change. “What good could going plant-based possibly do for the Earth?” one might ask. 

The answer- a lot!

Here’s a brief look at the cascade of positive effects that accompany the duet of “Adopting a Plant-Based – Shunning Animal Products” lifestyle. 

  • Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The meat and dairy industries heavily contribute to global warming due to the enormous amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture including feed crop production, fertilizer manufacturing, and transportation results in 7.1 gigatons of greenhouse GHG emissions per year, accounting for 14.5% of all GHG emissions. Beef production itself is responsible for approximately 300 kg CO2-eq of GHG per kilogram of protein. 

The release of harmful GHG impacts the environment by facilitating global warming. With the evident climate change and untimely natural disasters, it is time to change our ways. Facts suggest that altering our lifestyle by cutting out meat and dairy products from our diet can save the environment and help reverse the damage done by global warming.

  • Saving Water 

Animal farming requires huge quantities of water for irrigating feed farms, drinking, slaughtering animals, and processing meat and milk. Overall, one-third of available freshwater is used for meat and dairy production. The water footprints of beef, chicken, and dairy amount to 15,400, 4,300, and 1000 m3/ton as a global average, respectively. In contrast, the water footprint of potatoes is 250 m3/ton.

As water shortages become a harsh reality, using water for farmed animals is an unnecessary wastage. The lack of clean drinking water in regions worldwide shows that water is a precious but limited resource that we must use sparingly. 

Severe heat wave likely in several parts of India | Business Standard News
Representative image only.

Switching to a plant-based diet can reduce our water footprint while saving water and ensuring that there is enough for daily use. 

  • Preventing Water Pollution

Meat and dairy products result in groundwater pollution due to the drainage of fertilizers, manure, pesticides, and antibiotics used in factory farming. The run-off of animal waste such as urine and dung into freshwater supplies can result in the contamination of drinking water. Using this water can be detrimental to our health, resulting in complications, infections, and diseases such as cancer and infertility

Water Pollution Facts, Types, Causes and Effects of Water Pollution | NRDC
Representative image only.

Going plant-based offsets water pollution caused by animal farming and helps save fresh water for drinking purposes. 

  • Preventing Deforestation and Protecting Land

With 33% of agricultural soil being used for feed production, animal agriculture requires excessive use of land. An increase in animal farming has resulted in deforestation to make space for pasture and feed crops, resulting in the widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides. Together, this results in depletion of soil due to erosion, salinization, alkalization, pollution, and desertification. Eventually, this soil cannot be used for agriculture and is rendered to be a wasteland. 

A plant-based lifestyle can help prevent deforestation and protect the land from being overused and wasted. 

  • Preventing Wastage of Food Resources

With an increase in animal agriculture, there is a great demand for grains as feed for livestock. This has created unwarranted pressure to produce more feed for animals, leaving lesser grains for human consumption. 

How can we cut down on food waste? | Horizon: the EU Research & Innovation  magazine | European Commission
Representative image only.

Despite the amount of livestock feed cultivation, research has shown that 86% of the animal feed is inedible for humans. And crops such as soy and maize are used to feed the animals instead of feeding malnourished humans. The production of meat results in wastage of grain for feeding the animals as it requires up to 7 kg of grain per kg of beef.

Based on the Global Hunger Index, it is evident that many nations are impoverished and do not have enough food resources to meet even the basic needs of the population. Our meat consumption habits are responsible for this.

Switching to a plant-based diet can ensure that food resources are evenly used to prevent world hunger.

One Small Step For Mankind

Thus, making one change in your lifestyle can help you save the earth in so many different ways. Consuming consciously can take us a long way and help protect the earth from the harmful effects of animal farming.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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