The Shy Activist- Factory Farms, Greenhouse Gases and Waterways

“Producing one pound of beef takes an estimated 1,581 gallons of water, which is roughly as much as the average American uses in 100 showers.” 

How does meat making pollute our air, land and water? 

In the US 10 billion animals per year are produced for consumption of meat, dairy and eggs. The affect of this on our land is a third of the world’s carbon footprint. “Greenhouse gases such as water vapour, methane and carbon dioxide stop heat escaping from the Earth into space. An increased greenhouse effect can lead to global warming and climate change.”

So how exactly does factory farming affect the environment?

  • 37% of methane emissions result from factory farming. Methane is “70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2″.

In the US factory farms produce 1 million tons of manure a day which is often stored in open air lagoons. When the lagoons have reached capacity the manure is spread in the surrounding areas rather than be transported to a waste facility (to save money).

  • 65% Nitrous Oxide emissions result from factory farming. Nitrous Oxide is 200 times more damaging than a ton of CO2.

Genetically modified corn and soy is grown to feed animals. The large amount of pesticides used to grow the feed emits nitrous oxides. “Livestock feed production, like human food production, often involves large applications of nitrogen based fertilizer to agricultural soils. This in-turn results in nitrification and denitrification in the soil and the release of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere.”

  • Enough carbon is being released into the atmosphere to increase the rate of global warming by 50 percent

“Clearing land to grow soybeans in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for clearing over 100 million hectares of forest…In the United States alone, over 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to make room for crop fields, most of which are used to exclusively grow livestock feed. “

  • Animal poop lagoons contaminate local waterways

“When these by-products get into local water ways, they cause toxic algae blooms which lead to “dead zones” and massive fish kills. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause spontaneous abortions and blue baby syndrome and bacteria outbreaks from agricultural water pollution is responsible for several disease outbreaks across the United States.”

So what to do?

  1. You could reduce your meat intake. It does’t mean that you have to become a vegetarian if that concept sounds blasphemous to you. You could have Meatless Monday’s or have meat as a treat in the weekends.
  2. Purchase local and organic produce. You may have a local farm that sells their own meat or there are farms such as willowbrook farm who raise animals ethically and sustainably.
  3. Do not give your money to businesses who do not care for our environment! If we continue to fund them they will continue to take advantage of the environment and the animals.



“FOMI handbags and shoes are a testament to the fact that it is possible for fashion companies to ethically produce luxury goods in Africa, without compromising on quality and craftsmanship. Afomia believes that the fashion manufacturing industry could prove to be a vital economic sector for Africa. It is her hope that other companies will recognize this potential and explore the possibilities that exist there.”


Sources and further reading

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