Every day, it seems like there is a new study or discovery about how the climate crisis is affecting life on earth. Animal populations are struggling to survive and steadily declining, natural disasters have been occurring more and more frequently, rivers are drying up, risks of illness and disease are increasing, and food is becoming more scarce. The list goes on, but the point has been made: the climate crisis is an existential threat that needs to be dealt with immediately. If we continue without substantial changes, billions of people will be displaced, more animals will go extinct, and society will eventually collapse.

Hearing about the reality of anthropogenic climate change and our polluted environment can sometimes feel overwhelming, and thus, fill us with despair. However, there is still hope. We have to educate ourselves about what is going on, make responsible decisions, and advocate for this planet to protect its future.

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This Earth Day, take the time to learn about some of the environmental issues that we currently face so that you can make responsible and ethical decisions. Share this information with friends and family, sign the petitions, and get involved to maximize your positive impact!

Factory Farming and Agriculture

1. 5 Ways Factory Farming Is Killing the Environment

cows

Source: Alice Welch / U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Industrial agriculture is one of the most unsustainable practices of modern civilization. From start to finish, factory farming is responsible for the abuse of land, animals, and natural resources all for the express purpose of providing cheap, unhealthy food to large amounts of people. Our current global food system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse emissions and it completely depends on fossil fuels for transportation and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Read 5 Ways Factory Farming Is Killing the Environment to learn about the top five ways that factory farming harms the planet. If you’re looking to dive deeper into the specific ways that factory farming harms the planet and its inhabitants, check out the following articles:

2. How Factory Farming Creates Air Pollution

factory farm

Source: Evgeny_V/Shutterstock

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Imagine for a second, you’re driving through the rolling green pastures of central Pennsylvania. Surrounded by wide open fields and mountains in the distance, you are taken in by the immense natural beauty. Then it hits you. Like a thick wall of putrid bricks: the smell of manure. Next thing you know, you’re gasping for air and high-tailing your way out of this place. The mountains of manure from factory farms can release around 400 different harmful gases into the atmosphere. Some of these gases include nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. Read How Factory Farming Creates Air Pollution to learn more about these gases, many of which are also potent greenhouse gases, damage the environment and human health.

3. These 10 Shocking Facts On Factory Farms and Water Pollution Will Make You Rethink That Burger

lagoon factory farm

Source:  Friends of Family Farmers/Flickr

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In the United States, around 27 billion animals are raised for food every year. The cruelty that these animals experience is rather well-known and understood, however, the negative environmental impact that raising this many animals causes is less so. One of the most notable ways that factory farming impacts the environment comes in the form of water pollution. The majority of the water used in factory farms does not go towards hydrating animals, but rather to cleaning and processing animals during slaughter. Once this water is polluted with animal waste, it is so polluted with antibiotics, hormones, and bacteria that it cannot be returned to the water system, so it ends up being stored in massive open-air lagoons that often leak or are sprayed onto neighboring lands. Read These 10 Shocking Facts On Factory Farms and Water Pollution Will Make You Rethink That Burger to learn more about how factory farms pollute water.

4. This is How Animal Agriculture Causes Deforestation

CATTLE GRAZING

Source: Kim and Forest Starr/Wikimedia Commons

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National Geographic cites that “The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock.” Plant-based agriculture used to feed animals bred for food drives up the amount of resources consumed by crops – “intensive livestock production requires large quantities of harvested feed. The growing of cereals for feed, in turn, requires substantial areas of land” – while grazing animals such as cattle place additional stress on the state of Earth’s forests. This especially true for the Amazon Rainforests, much of which has been destroyed by large meat companies. Read This is How Animal Agriculture Causes Deforestation to learn more about how animal agriculture leads to the destruction of forests around the world.

If you’re looking to stop supporting these industries, check out some of our amazing plant-based recipes and guides:

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Fashion Industry

1. How the Fast Fashion Industry Destroys the Environment

dye in river

Source: STORYPLUS / Shutterstock.com

As consumers buy more and more clothes, the fast fashion industry has flourished, mass-producing trendy clothing using cheap, exploitative labor, and environmentally-harmful processes. By producing apparel and garments, massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions enter the atmosphere, water sources are depleted, and carcinogenic chemicals, dyes, salts, and heavy metals are dumped into waterways. The fashion industry produces 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping, the UNEP reports. Read How the Fast Fashion Industry Destroys the Environment to learn about the environmental burden involved in each step of making clothes. If you’re looking to dive deeper into the specific ways that fast fashion harms the planet and its inhabitants, check out the following articles:

2. As Fall’s Trends Hit the Runway, Ask Yourself: Are You Wearing Rainforest Destruction?

wood

Source: blew_s/Shutterstock

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 Dissolving pulp is a little-discussed yet highly influential commodity in today’s marketplace. And the increased demand for this product is accelerating deforestation and exacerbating human rights abuses across the globe. Big name fashion brands are complicit in the pulping of pristine forests – seizing Indigenous land, driving species loss, and threatening the climate – all to manufacture a product that makes its way into the clothes we wear every day. Read As Fall’s Trends Hit the Runway, Ask Yourself: Are You Wearing Rainforest Destruction? to learn more about the destructive industry of dissolving wood pulp for clothing.

3. Your Laundry has a Dirty Secret … and It’s Harming Marine Species and Humans!

laundry

Source: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Chances are you just did a quick scan to check if you were wearing any plastic and might be a bit confused. Although it might not look like it, the majority of our clothing is composed of plastic, in the form of microfibers. If you are wearing a synthetic material, such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic, your clothes are made up of tiny threads of plastic. While this might not seem like such a huge deal … it turns out it is. Read Your Laundry has a Dirty Secret … and It’s Harming Marine Species and Humans! to

Check out these articles to help you ditch fast fashion and shop sustainably!

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Single-Use Plastic

1. Is it Really Worth the Convenience? 6 Ways Plastic is Harming Animals, the Planet and Us

turtle with plastic in mouth

Source: Rich Carey/Shutterstock

It is true that some plastics do end up in recycling centers and can be made into sweet new objects like a park bench or playground equipment. The reality is that the majority of plastics go un-recycled. In the United States, the EPA estimates that only 12 percent of plastic waste gets recycled. The plastic materials that don’t end up recycled typically get sent to landfills where they may take as many as 1,000 years to decompose. For something that is supposed to be quick and convenient, there is nothing quick or convenient about the complete lifecycle of a plastic object. It spends a mere fraction of its existence actually serving a purpose. And the rest of the time, you’ll find, it is actually a nuisance and threatens the health of the environment, animals, and even people. Read Is it Really Worth the Convenience? 6 Ways Plastic is Harming Animals, the Planet and Us to learn more about plastic pollution. If you’re looking to dive deeper into the specific ways that plastic harms the planet and its inhabitants, check out the following articles:

2. 10 Heartbreaking Videos of Sea Animals Harmed by Plastic Pollution

sea horse in plastic

Source: Rich Carey/Shutterstock

Single-use plastics are something that almost everyone comes in contact with on a daily basis. They are convenient, long-lasting, and so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to find any product that doesn’t at least use some plastic packing. Unfortunately, plastic’s durability is one of the traits that makes it simultaneously so popular and so dangerous. Only around twelve percent of plastic objects get recycled, which is especially worrisome considering the fact that plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose. Even then, plastic only becomes microplastic, which is still harmful to people, animals, and the environment. When plastic ends up in the ocean, animals can get entangled in plastic, making it difficult for them to swim around. They can also consume plastic, which can painful and cause them to slowly starve to death. Read 10 Heartbreaking Videos of Sea Animals Harmed by Plastic Pollution to learn about the reality of what happens to animals when plastic ends up in the ocean.

3. More Than Just Trash: How Chemicals From Plastic Pollution Harm Us

More Than Just Trash ... How Chemicals That Come With Plastic Pollution Harm You and Animals

Source: Chris Jordan/Wiki Commons

It’s no secret. We have severely polluted our oceans with plastic. In addition to the commonly known problems of plastic pollutants for wildlife (e.g., starvation, gut obstruction, entanglement), the sublethal issue of chemicals in these plastic pollutants in the marine environment lingers. The chemicals, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), are pervasive and effortlessly pass from animal to animal via different levels of a food web while increasing in concentration (bioamplification). To learn more about the harm that the chemicals in plastic cause, read More Than Just Trash: How Chemicals From Plastic Pollution Harm Us.

Looking to lessen your reliance on plastic? Check out these helpful tips and guides!

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Fossil Fuels

1. Our Fossil Fuel Addiction Created the Climate Crisis, Now It’s Threatening Our Forests Too

Ituri rainforest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Source: MONUSCO/Abel Kavanagh/Flickr

The world’s remaining forests are essential in tackling the climate crisis. They can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, which has build-up from excessive fossil fuel use and is a major driver of global warming. Forests also support a huge amount of the planet’s biodiversity, the loss of which is another key issue in the current environmental emergency. However, forests face a direct and growing threat from the fossil fuel industry and other extractive businesses. Because there are numerous mining and infrastructure projects underway, or in the pipeline, in forest-rich regions that imperil these essential ecosystems. To learn more about how fossil fuels are destroying forests, read Our Fossil Fuel Addiction Created the Climate Crisis, Now It’s Threatening Our Forests Too.

2. How Drilling the Earth for Natural Gas is Fracking Up Human Lives Across America

fracking

Source: jbpribanic/ Public Herald/Flickr

Although hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been lauded as the “miracle” cure to America’s dependence on foreign oil, we are seeing that fracking causes more problems than it solves. Mainly, these problems come in the form of environmental damage and subsequent damage to public health. The damage that is done to water and air can never be undone and the toxins that fracking releases into our environment are harmful to both humans and animals. To learn about fracking and its negative impacts on people, animals, and the planet, read How Drilling the Earth for Natural Gas is Fracking Up Human Lives Across America.

3. The Defense Industry, an Overlooked Environmental Villain

air force plane

Source: VanderWolf Images/Flickr

There are a number of industries that receive attention from climate activists and the wider public for their polluting activities. Agricultureaviation, and, of course, energy regularly feature in discussions on the climate crisis. The defense industry is, however, often overlooked. But as a major environmental villain, it’s highly deserving of scrutiny. One study showed that the “US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries.” Read The Defense Industry, an Overlooked Environmental Villain to learn more about the astronomical environmental impact of the defense industry.

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