THE BLOG
04/12/2013 10:55 am ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013

If You Could Change Just One Thing

The world is a mess -- war, strife, threat of war and nuclear destruction. We struggle with global warming, pollution, species becoming extinct. We live under the threat of our food supply being compromised by the biotech industry. The economy struggles.

It's daunting and unrealistic to think we can change the world in a systemic way (as idealistic as we might want to be). But each action we take creates a ripple in this pond of life for the good.

As Earth Day approaches, consider this thought. If you could change one thing -- if you could control one thing, and have that change have an actual effect on life as we know it, what would you change?

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing, it would be that man had never invented soda. Yup, soda. Liquid Satan, the Darth Vader of food.

But I digress.

We can dream all day about what we would change if we had all the power in the world, but small changes are the things revolutions are made of; small changes are what create the ripples that turn the tide.

So what can we do? If you could change one thing and change the world, would you?

Changing the food you eat can change the world.

According to The Scientific American, while we all know that cars, coal-burning electricity and factories contribute to greenhouse gas production associated with global warming, "our diets, specifically the meat in them, cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and the like to spew into the atmosphere than transportation or industry."

The Scientific American article also states that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that current production levels of meat contribute to 14 to 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases the world produces every year.

So your half-pound burger produces the same amount of pollution as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.

I know; this is the place where I go all vegan on you, right? Nope. But consider this. One less meat-centric meal a week can help save the environment... not even a whole day, just a meal! It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat and for each animal raised on rainforest land, about 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.

One meatless meal a week -- the planet can breathe easier and all you changed was one thing.

You might also consider buying local when and where you can. You might think it won't make that much difference, and yet consider the amount of pollution created to get your food from the farm to your table. Whenever possible, try buying from local farmers or farmers' markets; it helps support your local rural economy and reduces the amount of greenhouse gas created when products are flown or trucked in. Even if you buy locally when farmers' markets are in season and even if it's just some of your food, you have changed one thing and made a difference on many levels.

As warm weather approaches, we tend to dine al fresco. With that comes the desire to use paper products to make life easier, but that ease comes with a price: trash that sits in a landfill. And we use so much at a garden party, barbecue or picnic. We set down cups, plates and forks; can't remember which is ours and grab new ones. More trash! Is there an option? Sure, you can set out crayons so people can decorate the cups and use them for the whole party. And did I mention it makes for some childlike fun?

It gets better. From plates to forks, bamboo to corn, you can find compostable dinnerware for any outdoor party. It's a win-win. Cleanup is simple for you and the planet.

And you changed just one thing...

From unplugging appliances not in use to turning off the water when you brush your teeth, from driving less to recycling things you no longer need, from using fewer packaged products to planting trees...

If we each could change just one thing, we could change the world.