Google has released a new tool this week to help you reduce your carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly life.
‘Your plan, your planet’ is an interactive app, teaching you facts about food, water and energy usage in a super fun and simple way.
Clicking through the screens, I was able to engage in games like halting leaky pipes and toilets with a single tap. ‘Well, I’ll be’ facts were awarded with every one stopped.
I chose what food I’d thrown away in the last week and was told my tossed items for a year ‘is like wasting 43 bathtubs of water’. You can change these relatable measurements to things like school buses or hot tubs, if that makes it easier for you to understand.
I made pledges to do things like install a water-smart showerhead and actually learnt some stuff, too. I didn’t realise, for instance, that dishwashers use 1/2 the energy and 1/3 of the water than handwashing.
The length of my showers for a year equates to over 9000 gallons of water a year. Gosh! I better cut down then, right?
Flicking through the screens, I couldn’t help but become a little bit irate at the one bleedingly obvious thing they’d seemed to have missed. It’s only the single biggest way of reducing our impact on the earth – avoiding meat and dairy.
As attested by The Guardian, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.”
These facts are relayed in Leonardo Di Caprio’s controversial documentary, Cowspiracy, which reveals that it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of beef. That’s about 5 Big Macs. McDonald’s sells 550 million Big Macs each year. I don’t think my measly shower shortening competes. Sure, it will help, but these numbers speak for themselves.
To repeat a famous moment in Cowspiracy, as an interviewer argues against asking people to reduce their meat consumption says ‘well, this is a behavioural change’ and the interviewee replies ‘and changing the length of your shower isn’t a behavioural change?’
In the interest of total transparency, I’m not a 100% vegan, nor am I a full-blown carnivore. I no longer eat beef, I have cut down my meat consumption massively and 60-80% of my meals are vegetarian or vegan. I know this isn’t perfect, but I also know (as confirmed by The Guardian) that cutting down is doing a great deal more for the planet than shedding 2 minutes off my shower time.
The facts about the meat industry are not a conspiracy. Ignorance is one of the biggest reasons people are reluctant to try and change their behaviour. With this in mind, should Google have made a section on ‘Your plan, your planet’ about trying to reduce meat and dairy? Would the backlash have been too great? Perhaps. But if Google had placed even a fraction of the information from environmental sources in front of their million-wide audience, it could have sparked interest and enlivened such a bigger change than they’re currently trying to instill.