OSU researchers look at small steps to reduce carbon emissions

STILLWATER, Okla. – Many people across the country are taking small steps to become more environmentally friendly, and researchers at a local university say little changes can make a big impact.

Bailey Norwood and Lance Gagelman, researchers at Oklahoma State University, worked to determine what it would take to off-set beef, which is a known contributor of greenhouse gases.

They determined that if the average household was willing to spend just $20 each year on carbon offsets, they can achieve a carbon footprint similar to a vegetarian even though they are still eating conventionally raised beef.

“For many people, the sacrifice of $20 a year is much smaller than the sacrifice of giving up meat,” Norwood said. “This highlights the effectiveness of carbon offsets. The activities they engage in to reduce carbon emissions seem much more effective than dietary changes.”

Carbon offsets, or activities like planting trees, can help balance out the emission of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

In the study, researchers looked at how households could reduce their carbon footprint by changing their diets by replacing beef with grass fed beef, chicken, poultry or adopting a vegetarian diet.

Researchers discovered that replacing beef with chicken, poultry or a vegetarian diet could decrease a family’s carbon footprint. However, replacing beef with grass fed beef actually would increase a family’s carbon footprint.

“Although this study concentrates on beef, I think it highlights the fact that people can mitigate their impact on the climate without changing their lifestyles much,” Norwood said. “This is true for both our eating habits and our transportation methods.”