Wilderness-punking The Environment

What have I been up to lately, besides bingeing on “true” horror stories and proofing my latest novel? After celebrating Patriot’s Day, I also hit one of the rare and lonely rivers which cuts through southern Arizona, the San Pedro. But enough about me; today I intend to actually finish something I started. I hope my parents haven’t just fainted. It involves the environment and how there may still be time to save it.

I want to address the six things we can all accomplish, within our urban environments, which will help lower our Negative Environmental Impact (NEI).

Here’s a quick review of those six ideas:

  1. Minimizing food waste
  2. Commuting by bicycle, walking, bus
  3. Use energy wisely such as high efficiency devices and keeping them unplugged
  4. Consume less
  5. Eating for a climate stable planet
  6. Recycle, reduce, reuse

As at least three of you are aware, numbers 1-4 have been thoroughly covered, which bringing us to… Eating for a climate stable planet! No, I’m not coming for your hamberder, but I do intend to toss some data out there …with pickles.

But, before I do…

Since seriously investigating our NEI, I’ve discovered a few crucial points, Most people I associate with all claim to be environmentalists and interested in helping the environment, yet, despite their claims, they do little more than the average Trump supporter to reduce their current NEI. Most people, recycle, have maybe one small pet project, post a few anti-pollution memes on Facebook and call it a done deal. Meanwhile, in this country, the average person pollutes about 200x more a day than someone living in India. Think about it, chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re 200x worse than someone living in a more traditional environment. If we went back 10,000 years your current lifestyle would be causing more like a 1000x more damage than Rutroo the Barbarian. I’m not demanding you change, but unless you’re living in an igloo in Alaska I think very few Americans can claim to be true environmentalists. “Hello, I’m part of the worst polluters the world has ever seen, but I’m an environmentalist.”

Still, what are the would-be heroes of Earth to do?

I hope we wish to do more than admit we’re hypocrites and wander off mumbling. Zano’s got that covered. Part of having the power to change is knowing the environmental score. That said, let’s look at the environmental cost of what we eat. Buckle up, because this is gonna hurt. Believe it or not, consumption of food creates the highest NEI score for humans. It beats out the resources we use for running a house and transportation. So if eating creates the highest impact on our environment, rethinking and adjusting our eating patterns might be the easiest way for each of us to lower our NEI, or is it?


Obviously the first, but perhaps not the easiest step, would be for as many humans as possible to become vegan or at least vegetarian. Yes, this would help, but it’s really not that simple. For instance the difference between low meat eaters and vegetarians is only a 12% drop in global NEI. This is great and if everyone did this, terrific, but this still doesn’t address the remaining 50% NEI vegans create. Even the difference between a guy who eats a steak every night and a vegan is only double. It seems strange you have to change your whole life, and make things rather difficult for yourself in multiple ways for this mediocre result. We just can’t lose this 50% best case scenario NEI creation… or can we?


So if we’re looking at a 50% NEI even if we’re trying our hardest with what we eat, lets looks at where this 50% comes from. It isn’t too complicated. Plants and meat cost energy and resources to produce and still more to prepare and package. Then still even more to transport to our local store. Then a bit more to remain in a temperature controlled building until we purchase it. Then team STQ throws most of it up after the “Chicago Tequila Incident”. And, even at our home we’re using energy to keep the refrigerator running and then cooking our yummies for consumption, or in the case of my friends, expulsion.

Food’s Baseline Negative Environmental Impact

  • Food Production
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Packaging
  • The Transportation of Food
  • Housing Food
  • Maintaining Food

Food Production:

We already know producing meat can up to double your NEI, depending on how much and what type you eat regularly. But whether you’re vegan or on the cowboy diet, this is still contributing to your food’s baseline NEI. Hannibal Lecter would argue that a diet of only cowboys has the best impact on NEI, but results may vary. Again, the difference between a light meat eater and a vegetarian isn’t as huge as one would think. Not that I want to Lecter you all on the subject.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water whenever possible.
  2. Eat foods which require less resources and energy to produce.


Food Preparation:

Apparently this is considered part of the food production process, although producing food seems different than preparing it to come to us. Interesting to note, whether one’s vegan or on the Cowboy diet, this is one the highest producers of NEI through the food cycle, if you include huge amount of food waste which occurs as is mentioned in WildernessPunk: The Number One Thing.  

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water to do so whenever possible.
  2. Do not shy away from purchasing food which appears imperfect.

Food Packaging:

There is less data available in regards to what percent of a food’s production of NEI is created by its packaging. One interesting trend, however, is the correlation between better packaged food and less waste. Still part of me wonders how our dystopian ancestors will feel as they stroll through the Styrofoam Fields, “They had to make everything as perfect as possible for three generations or so and placed Styrofoam under each piece of meat. This helped people live to an older age, so they could pollute even longer. Now go eat the caterpillar paste out of the communal cauldron and remember to share your fork with the whole village.”

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Buy bulk when possible, but be sure not to do this if it creates food waste.
  2. Attempt to buy food with the least amount of packaging possible.
  3. Recycle, reduce, and reuse this packaging as much as possible.
  4. Buy unpackaged foods.


Transportation of Food:

This is where vegans create as much NEI as the biggest carnivore. It appears transporting food creates roughly 11% of its NEI and is in many ways what we might have the least control over, but let’s take a stab at it anyway.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water to do so whenever possible.
  2. Research what types of food are produced near your area and try to eat these whenever possible.
  3. Buy food at local markets.
  4. Avoid exotic foods (like real cowboys).


Storing Food:

This appears to be the smallest producer of NEI. Only 5% of the overall NEI is created by maintenance and storage.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Use energy efficient transportation when buying food.
  2. Smaller more focused trips to the store help reduce food waste.
  3. Research which of your local stores are more eco-friendly.


Maintaining and Preparing Food:

For the average US citizen, electricity makes up 14% of their NEI. Refrigerators make up only 8.8% of this. So roughly 1.2% of our yearly NEI is created from refrigerator use. Which is probably one of the most reasonable uses of energy in our modern landscape. The best thing we can do to lower our NEI is to limit food waste (See: WildernessPunk Number One Thing). Interesting to note, refrigerator usage alone produces twice the NEI the average man in India creates with everything he does. Rutroo the Barbarian would like to remind us he used a cave …for everything.

Cooking food creates slightly less NEI than refrigerator use and is easier for us to avoid by purchasing more food which doesn’t need to be cooked.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Keep refrigerator on a higher temperature.
  2. Be efficient when removing items.
  3. Try to compost food which gets too old to eat or feed it to animals.
  4. Try to avoid buying more than you can eat before the food goes bad.
  5. In most cases, give the expiration date on food an extra week or two. John Oliver had a great bit on this here.
  6. Eat food which requires less energy to prepare.
  7. Recycle time-saving products which are big energy wasters.
  8. Don’t invite Ballz or Zano to any of you BBQ’s/parties. This is a good rule of thumb, regardless of the topic.

Food Production is one of the hardest things for the average consumer to influence. Of course, limiting your meat intake is the best way to lower your contribution to our NEI. Producing as much or your own food as possible is also a strong play.

This may seem like a lot of info, but if we think of things as a national effort we could start to see huge improvements! If we as a country could produce 20% less NEI the effects would be staggering. Keep in mind, all these improvements will help the environment, our country, and our personal finances. What’s the alternative? Is there anymore of that caterpillar paste in the communal cauldron? Shit.


You can check out some of my fiction here, where Dak has to decide between is lover and his job, but will either choice be able to save them both?



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Alex Bone

Alex Bone

Alex Bone (Michael D. Griffiths) is a man who likes to keep busy, too bad it mostly involves cleaning squirrels. In the past, his writing has been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies sometimes even published by someone else. He was awarded first place in Withersin’s 666 contest, which he was told will later give him the Golden Ticket tour of the third plane of Hell. He is on the staff of The Daily Discord, Cyberwizard Productions, SFReader, and on the Board of Directors for the Society of Advanced Humans that Seek to Live as Viking Ninjas. His series The Chronicles of Jack Primus is available through Living Dead Press. After being bitten by a zombie, his attentions have turned toward the walking dead and he has begun a new Zombie Apocalypse series called the Eternal Aftermath. When he discovered that he was a cloned from Eric the Red’s DNA, he wrote the Science Fiction series Skinjumpers. Later while experimenting with strange fungus, he slipped into a Fantasy world ruled by the mad mage Dalsala Den.