When it comes to business practices, bigger is not always better. While it is great to see a business achieve the goals it was aiming for, and grow as a result, it is important to note that larger business operations can lead to a bigger carbon footprint. For example, the expansion of business helpers means more paperwork, and since paper is made from trees, this means an increased strain on the environment.
But this does not have to be the case. In 2019 many businesses are environmentally-conscious of their carbon footprint, and take active steps to minimize it. This doesn’t have to be difficult, as something as simple as emailing correspondence and business newsletters, as opposed to printing them out, can save thousands of sheets of paper a year, and when you multiply this by all the businesses doing this, it can means thousands of trees saved a year.
Doing this is actually a really good business practice, as it does not just help the environment; it can also help your business by engendering goodwill (https://tilthecowscomehome.org/generating-goodwill-makes-sense-for-your-business/) amongst your environmentally-conscious clients. For these reasons, we at ‘Til The Cows Come Home are very concerned with minimizing the carbon footprint of cows, while still ensuring that they are nurtured and cared for, and able to help save the planet (https://tilthecowscomehome.org/holist-managment-how-cows-can-save-the-planet/).
Want to help save the world? Go vegan.
Cows are big, sturdy animals that thrive in large herds, so of course they have a large carbon footprint. A landmark global study (https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/going-vegan-is-the-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth/news-story/7f56cd0edd9ec5dea081f267fe3fc2af), conducted in 2018, reported that there is a simple way we can reduce our global warming woes, and everyone, yes everyone, can contribute: it is as simple as putting down the bacon and steak, and choosing not to buy that leather jacket, and opting for some natural alternatives instead. In fact, Dr Rosemary Stanton from the University of NSW told the ABC (https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-06-01/would-you-go-vegan-to-save-the-planet-study-says-its-best-option/9816168) that the benefits of cutting meat out of our diets would be dual-fold, as not only would it help the environment, it would increase the general health of the population. Further, another recent study (https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-05-15/tamworth-teacher-reeducation-in-agriculture/11112832) suggests that if the people raising cows gradually move away from their traditional rearing techniques and instead try an innovative technique called regenerative agriculture, then raising cows could actually sequester more carbon than it produces, which is fantastic news for cow lovers, the environment, and every single one of you reading this.
Cows can be an issue for the climate in a number of ways. When they eat, the microbes in their stomachs also produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which cows belch at a rate that’s almost as polluting as the natural gas industry in the United States. But the cows themselves are just one piece of their total carbon use: In the last stage of life, before they are sent to slaughterhouses, they’re often sent to feedlots and fed grains to fatten them up, and the fertilizer used to grow the grains is also a large source of emissions.
Further, in some South American countries, huge swaths of rainforest continue to be cut down to make room for cows raised for meat to grow crops to feed them. It almost goes without saying that deforestation is one of the largest causes of climate change.
All of this makes a really good argument for the implementation of regenerative agriculture practices; after all, when grazing is effectively managed, animals can actually help with carbon sequestration. Soils are a natural carbon sink, since plants suck in CO2 as they grow and then push extra carbon into the earth through their roots. The world’s soils currently contain an estimated 2,500 billion tons of carbon. Typical farming techniques, including plowing land and leaving soil bare between crops, releases that carbon. Overgrazing does the same thing. Farmed soils around the world have lost 50-70% of the carbon they once contained.
But when cows graze just enough, they can help plants grow faster, pushing more carbon back into the ground. It is clear that if cows are managed effectively, they have the remarkable ability to help save the land they graze on, the wider community, and possibly even the entire planet. But the cows are voiceless in this fight, and so need people to fight on their behalf, so that we can start taking the necessary steps towards helping our planet. If you are moved by our cause, and want to do your own bit to help, please donate to us via our secure PayPal: paypal.me/tilthecowscomehomeau
By Donna Wild
Edit by James Briggs