Hey Rider, did you know that how we eat could pollute the ocean? We often forget that our actions on land can affect the water. The effects can be positive — for example, by more people cutting the use of plastic bags, we are helping reduce roughly 20 billion pounds of that material which enters the ocean every year. Speaking of reducing plastic, Rider has saved over 2.7 million water bottles with our water bottle refill stations. Lined up, those could run from Lawrenceville to Toronto.
There is progress being made, and the movement to avoid plastic waste is thankfully picking up steam, yet we are still continuing habits on land that are greatly harming the ocean. However, the destruction largely happens out of sight. Industrial animal agriculture is seriously impacting our waterways, yet few people know it. Most of us know the treatment of the animals is ghastly, and because of that, a lot of people avoid purchasing factory- farmed meat, or they go vegetarian or vegan. Aside from animal cruelty, there is also an impact on the ocean.
Factory farming and commercial fishing are huge contributors to water waste. Not only factory farming, but commercial fishing as well. Although Lawrenceville is approximately 48 miles away from the closest shore point, our actions still greatly affect the state of the ocean. There are many ways industrial animal agriculture negatively affects the sea, and there are ways that we can help here at Rider to recycle and use less plastic.
Junior musical theatre major Gabi Bazinet, said, “Being vegan isn’t only beneficial for the health and safety of animals, it is also very impactful toward the environment. Meat production is a very big contributor toward climate change, deforestation and pollution. By eating vegan, we can decrease all of these harmful issues and be kind to our planet. Doing something good for the earth makes me feel good about eating clean.”
A massive problem is that the waste from factory farms doesn’t just stay on the farm. A little manure is the gardener’s friend, but the scale of this waste is a whole different story. Because of the high demand for meat in America, factory farms now produce over 10 billion animals per year. The scale on which factory farms produce animal waste creates nitrogen shocks to the environment, encouraging disease outbreak and destructive algae blooms.
The algae that grows uses up all the oxygen in the water, creating dead zones in the ocean that increase in size every year. Along with waste dumping, there is also an extremely large amount of water that goes into the food we eat. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that one hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce, the equivalent of two months’ worth of showers.
So what can one individual do to combat this massive scale of freshwater used and toxic runoff? The answer is simple: eat fewer animal products. Thankfully, Rider has caught on to this environmental crisis and has made efforts to provide an assortment of vegan and vegetarian options as an alternative to eating meat.
Sophomore musical theatre major Erin Powell, said, “I’ve cut out pork from my diet for two years now for environmental and cruelty reasons. It was an easy and healthy way to do something proactive to help save our oceans and planet. I also always use a refillable water bottle on campus and in my apartment to reduce plastic waste”
Even if it is just choosing to use a water bottle refill station or giving up one burger you would eat in a week, we should never ignore how our actions affect our oceans and world.
Printed in the 10/11/17 issue.