Celebrate Earth Day by Thinking Like an Oyster

Did you know that a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day? The Chesapeake Foundation found that an acre of oyster habitat filters up to 40 million gallons of water each day. The oyster is a “keystone species,” serving a critical role in maintaining an ecological community. As the humble oyster toils daily, pumping water through its gills and trapping contaminants, it begs the question “What do we do every day to maintain our ecological community?”

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center Study, only one in five Americans have adopted daily habits to sustain the health of our earth. Surprisingly, those folks who are toiling like the oyster represent a wide mix of income and educational backgrounds; are equally urban and suburban, and are not affiliated with any one political party. Who are these diligent crew members on our spaceship earth? They are people who have chosen to consume less and for very good reasons.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that household consumer products are responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. According to the study, four-fifths of the environmental impact of consumerism does not stem from driving cars or long showers. Rather, the most adverse effect on our environment is the excess of convenience products such as frozen pizza, plastic forks in our carry-out dinners, and disposable cups. We can rail against the environmental policies of government and industry; but ultimately, we each must decide if we have been hitching a free ride on our earth ship by adding too much stuff to cart.

Earth is the keystone to our health; not one of us can survive without her wellbeing. Think like an oyster; reduce consumerism and be a responsible crew member of our ecological community.