20160920_154341-2Jordan Rich/Columnest

Welcome back from an extremely hot summer vacation. July was actually the hottest month in recorded history. So hopefully you are wondering what you can do throughout the school year to best reduce your effect on climate change.

Eating less meat may be the best way for you to accomplish this.

Not eating meat does a lot more than riding the bus and turning off the lights when you leave the room for the environment.

The production of meat creates 27 percent of man-made methane. Methane gas is over 30 times more potent in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so that is a big deal.

A calorie of meat also requires 20 times more clean drinking water to produce than its vegetable counterpart, huge considering that climate change is pushing us towards more and more clean water shortages.

To make room for livestock, we cut down forests that would otherwise be removing greenhouses gases from the atmosphere.

If we use sustainable growing practices like here at Lane’s Learning Garden, we could keep the land we use healthy and reduce our need to expand into forested land.

Lane is not perfect though. Lane’s Sustainability Coordinator Michael Sims said that Lane isn’t doing anything about our meat farming practices and wants people to make their own decisions about their diets.

While I agree that going full on vegetarian or vegan is unrealistic and potentially unhealthy for many people, it is still important to get this information out there for people who would like to lessen their impact on the environment.

Sims said that they do not teach vegetarian or vegan nutrition which is unbelievable because it’s potentially vital knowledge for students.

I was pleased when Sims told me about Lane’s food waste plan. The food from Lane’s kitchen will either be composted or used to stock the Rainy Day Pantry on campus.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that around 30-40 percent of the food supply in the United States ends up in the landfill. While festering in that landfill our food produces methane, landfills are the third largest producer of man-made methane in the United States.

This also means that we have to produce 30-40 percent more food, disastrous for the planet.

Cutting down on our meat consumption would reduce our need for meat production, cutting down on the negative environmental effects like deforestation, excessive methane gas and clean water waste.

While changing our daily habits is hard, the effects of climate change will be much worse and much sooner than we realize.