Opportunity is not a word often paired with climate change. There is good reason for this. Our changing climate is rapidly deteriorating our planet and we will not be able to feed the projected over nine billion people inhabiting Earth by 2050. While the projections are ominous, there is an opportunity to adopt a solution that helps feed the planet, address climate change and build a healthier, more sustainable future.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Earth Day Network is launching Foodprints for the Future, a new campaign focused on using food choices as a path to fighting climate change, feeding the planet and improving public health.
The campaign’s vision is simple: low-impact, healthy, accessible and affordable food for all and for the planet. To realize this vision, we must unify food movements, hear diverse perspectives, and uplift the voices of those that climate change impacts most.
But first, we must define “foodprint.” A foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with the growing, production, transportation, and storing of our food— from the natural resources consumed to the pollution produced to the greenhouse gases emitted.
While we should all be working to reduce our foodprints, there are many factors, including access, affordability, health and culture that help shape our decisions about what we eat. There is not one prescribed diet for everyone. Thus, the campaign addresses the impacts of a range of foodprints.
The campaign will focus on two significant contributors to our foodprints: animal agriculture and food waste. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that animal agriculture and food waste account for 14.5 and 8 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, respectively. Together they account for almost a quarter of all human-made greenhouse emissions! Additionally, animal agriculture is resource intensive, requiring an estimated 1,800 gallons of water for a single pound of beef and is a leading cause of deforestation. Food waste or loss is estimated to account for 30-40 percent of the food supply in the United States, and according to the United Nations, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter.
To tackle these issues, Foodprints for the Future will inspire much-needed improvements through individual and institutional changes, enhanced literacy about food choices and food waste, student mobilization, the showcasing of exciting new innovations in plant-based alternatives, and the creation of a resounding call to connect plant-based food choices with climate solutions.
Foodprints for the Future will create a new and much-needed cross-sectional coalition, bringing together the animal welfare, environmental, health, racial, and equity justice movements. Each organization represented in the Foodprints coalition has its own mission, but all believe that bonding together to improve our food system is a crucial way to achieve their goals and tackle climate change.
The campaign will also highlight Foodprints for the Future Ambassadors to lift young voices who are the future of the environmental movement. Ambassadors like Jamie Margolin, Erick Castro, Haile Thomas, Evan Lutz, and Kayla Soren are entrepreneurs, activists, and leaders who are already unifying and inspiring movements and people to make climate and food justice part of their everyday lives.
Earth Day Network is building a unified movement to help individuals, private companies, universities, and governments find their pathway to helping transform our food system. Action must be taken at every level. Earth Day Network and its partners will make it easier for everyone to do their part to help build the future we crave.
To learn more about Foodprints for the Future visit foodprints.earthday.org. If you are an organization interested in joining the Foodprints Coalition, please email [email protected] or visit foodprints.earthday.org/join for more information.