DC Metro Businesses for Low CO2 Food System

We must cut 7 billion tons of carbon (GtC) from our food system in order to reach net zero by 2050. This means cutting 3.5 GtC by 2030.

66% Vegan,
Low Methane

On social media you’ll often see posts about becoming 100% vegan to save humanity. But the data shows we only have to be 66% vegan to hit our targets. Anywhere between 66% – 100% will work. Scientists have discovered they can mix a 3% seaweed supplement with cattle feed and reduce methane emissions anywhere from 40% to 80%. Many “plant-based” alternative meats are processed, so be careful. We have to make sure we consume “complete” protein every day to have this become sustainable.

Backyard Vegetable Beds

Growing our own fruits, vegetables and spices is highly recommended as a climate solution, and will provide the healthiest produce with the lowest carbon emissions. A lot of time involved, however. So, it may not be a winning solution for everyone. But if you have the time, and the yard and the resources, fruit and vegetable gardening is wonderful.

Buy Local Produce

CSAs and local farm stores are the best way to buy local. Many farmers markets allow farmers to sell their produce in our communities, even though they come from several hundred miles away. The definition of “local” is within 400 miles per The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. But it’s still quite a bit of carbon. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is growing quickly, so be sure to look for this healthy, carbon-lowering opportunity in your community. CSAs do not use pesticides. You’ll also greatly reduce single-use plastic produce bags.

Compost Food Scraps

Home composting our food scraps is one of the most significant things we can do for climate. It has two major benefits: dramatically reduces landfill methane emissions, and substantially increases soil health, which boosts carbon drawdown. Landfill methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 emissions. Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2, but adding anything that’s 25 times more potent than CO2 only pushes us that much closer to irreversible and deadly tipping points. Our goal is to quickly retreat from the edge of the tipping points. If you have a yard, the best option may be to create your own compost bin. But the next best option is choosing the right compost collection service for you and your family. Most companies give members free compost each season. Otherwise, the majority of communities have a compost drop-off site. As a last resort, you could deposit your food scraps on the floor of a nearby public forest each week.

Carbon Labeling Will Help Guide

Choosing food products in the grocery store each week based on total carbon emissions to produce, is something we should be demanding from our elected representatives. Labeling regulations need to become policy. We know from existing nutritional labeling, as well as gluten free, organic, naturally grown, etc, how much labeling influences our decision making while shopping. Some restaurants are already displaying carbon emissions next to each item listed on the menu. Just Salad to name one. Be on the lookout the next time you shop.

Rice Methane

Growing rice creates methane and nitrous oxide. The amount of water required in rice paddies, blocks oxygen from getting to the soil and results in bacteria building up and releasing methane. When the water is eventually drained, nitrous oxide is produced. We will have to cut 500 million tons of rice methane and nitrous oxide by 2050. Scientists are working on this now. You may want to avoid rice as much as possible and replace with lentils or chickpeas.

Reusables On
the Go

Single-use plastic is considered the third crisis we’re experiencing that’s interwoven with the climate crisis and the biodiversity loss crisis to form one giant supercrisis. Plastic is toxic and is made from petroleum. There are now so many microplastic particles in our food supply that we consume 100 bits of microplastic with each meal, which amounts to one credit card a week and 52 credit cards a year. This can be deadly and creatives cognitive impairment in children and babies. We need to eliminate as much plastic as possible from our household food system. The recent discovery of nanoplastics make the situation even more dire. Choosing bamboo reusables instead of plastic single-use is imperative for our own health and the planet’s.

Plastic Packaging Toxins

Plastic food packaging is the main source of the microplastics we all consume. The most frustrating part is when organic food manufacturers use plastic to package their supposed toxic-free healthy food item. We have to become skilled at refusing to buy products packaged in plastic as hard as this may be sometimes (ketchup, salad dressing, vegan butter, organic creamy sunflower butter).

Worldwide, one-third of all food produced today is wasted. Most of it winds its way to landfills where it generates nearly 2 GtC of CO2e emissions, mainly methane gas.

Speed & ScaleAn Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now

To reach net-zero, we must change the way farming and our food system works from the ground up.

Speed & ScaleAn Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now