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The South End Guide to Reducing our Carbon Footprint: Plant-Based Eating

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Just a few weeks ago we sweated through the hottest June temperature in Seattle’s recorded history. Heat in the triple digits can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations and the unhoused. The heat wave prompted the City to coordinate cooling stations — including libraries, spray parks, and beaches — as June 28 climbed to a record 108 degrees, capping a three-day stretch of triple-digit temperatures. The heatwave also affected plenty of non-human life. In Vancouver, B.C., June’s heatwave led to the deaths of 1 billion sea animals. Such staggering numbers could mean dire consequences for ocean life and interdependent ecosystems. 

The main reason for Seattle’s increasingly warming temperatures (overall, Seattle has warmed by 2 degrees since 1900) is climate change. Climate change happens when greenhouse gasses trap heat and warm the planet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency: “Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.” 

A carbon footprint is a calculation of how much greenhouse gasses a person, or population, generates. You can calculate your own carbon footprint at The Nature Conservancy. (It’s super-interesting!) Scientists have been sounding the alarm on climate change for decades, and although there is much to be done on a global scale to change the course of the climate crisis, the decisions we make in our everyday lives are some things we do have control over. 

The Emerald is exploring changes that South End residents can make to reduce our carbon footprint in a new series of articles. In this first installment, we’re looking at how eating low on the food chain is not only more sustainable for the planet, it also plays an important part in the health of our communities and food-justice movements. 

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