Those who are aware of animal rights issues are very familiar with the disturbing images from factory farms. Innocent animals piled on top of each other in filthy, cramped enclosures with no access to the natural elements, filled with hormones and chemicals, beaten, violated, and ultimately, mercilessly killed.

But the problems surrounding factory farms go far beyond just the realm of animal rights. Factory farms pose an undeniable risk to our planet’s environment, contaminating our air and water, and pig waste, in particular, is known for being especially harmful to people and the environment.

The people over at RAYGUN wanted to put pig waste into perspective for everyone. Iowa is the nation’s leading state for pig populations, with an estimated 23 million pigs, compared to just 3 million people who live in Iowa. Using an average estimate for the amount of waste one pig produces a day, which is about seven pounds, they realized that 140 million pounds of pig waste is dumped on Iowa every single day. That means 25 MILLION TONS of pig waste is produced in the state in just one year.

With numbers this large, it can be hard to understand the magnitude of this, but this graphic helps: 



Considering pig waste is typically liquefied in cesspools, RAYGUN wanted to quantify how many liquid gallons all this pig waste equates to – 6.3 billion gallons a year. That is the same as 9,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools, of pig waste, in Iowa alone!

People who live nearby factory farms and these giant pools of waste are often subject to enormous amounts of air and water pollution. Unfortunately, factory farms are typically built in low-income areas, making it unfeasible for residents to move. The fact that pig waste is responsible for creating multi-drug resistant bacteria and cognitive and respiratory illnesses in people, is enough for any bacon-lover to rethink their choices.

The good news is we can all help reduce the impact of factory farms with our own food choices. By choosing to reduce or eliminate your consumption of animal products, you can help lower demand and help bring about a more sustainable food system.

To learn more about how you can start helping people, animals, and the planet with your food choices, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

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