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Awareness Is the First Step to Change

POSTED UNDER By Our Associates

Associate Spotlight: Thaiz Mendoza

For many of us, recycling is the first thing that comes to mind when we think about how to reduce our impact on the planet. For Macy’s Credit and Customer Services representative Thaiz Mendoza, it’s the “reduce” part of the reduce, reuse, recycle equation – specifically as it relates to diet and the impact of food production on our environment. Over the past two years, Mendoza has been on a journey of exploring what she eats and its impact on the planet, and says she’s learned a lot.

There are a lot of different ways to eat sustainably, including eating more locally-sourced foods (your local farmers market is a great resource – and more and more grocery stores are stocking and promoting locally-grown or locally-sourced items). Mendoza notes that sourcing locally is important, because food travels shorter distances. “Being aware of where your food comes from, how it’s produced and the impact it has on the planet – that’s the most important way to be sustainable to me.”

For her, eating sustainably means going a step further and adopting a plant-based diet – an approach she admits isn’t for everyone. “The biggest question I get is, ‘What do you eat?’” she says with a laugh. But the impact of meat production on sustainability is considerable. According to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), there may be no other single human activity with a bigger impact on the planet than raising livestock.

Livestock are most often fed corn, soybean meal and other grains, which first have to be grown – requiring large amounts of fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, water and land. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), growing livestock feed in the United States requires 167 million pounds of pesticides, 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, and approximately 149 million acres of land. Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ecologist David Pimentel says, “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million.”

That’s before considering the production of livestock itself. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to product one pound of beef, and livestock agriculture is responsible for nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In some parts of the world, including Latin America, rainforests are being illegally cut down for corn and soy production for cattle feed, threatening native and migratory species, according to a report in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Living Bird Magazine.

These are statistics that are troubling to Mendoza, who says, “It’s important to be aware of how food affects not just your body, but also the world around you. What we eat matters.”

She also focuses on sustainability in other areas of her life, using eco-friendly cleaning products and sharing what she’s learned with others. An active member of the MCCS Clearwater Go Green ERG since 2015, she’s worked on multiple projects, including the group’s Big Cat Rescue cleanup and the sustainable garden the ERG members planted at Macy’s offices – a project that garnered a beautification award from the local community.

The idea of the Go Green ERG was compelling for her. “I was really excited that a big company like Macy’s would be so involved in sustainability,” she says, going on to note that she’s most proud of the active role Macy’s takes in recycling. “It’s important for companies to be involved in sustainability because people go to work every day, eight hours a day, five days a week. They can reach so many people at one time and provide education. It’s also an opportunity to show what makes a difference and to raise awareness.”

Raising awareness is a big part of what the Clearwater Go Green ERG does, Mendoza says. “We do something every month. We have a table out where we share knowledge on a different topic – and sharing knowledge is the first step in making a change.”

As she looks ahead to what’s next in sustainability, she sees leather alternatives as an up-and-coming category. Through her research, she’s learned about leather made from pineapple leaf fibers – a process that uses a by-product of the pineapple harvest. “It’s reusing what’s already being produced – there’s no additional land or water or fertilizer being used – it’s just making an existing product more productive and useful,” emphasizes Mendoza.

It’s a goal we’re all striving to achieve.


You might also like:

Macy’s Associates Make a Sustainable Impression in Zoo Cleanup

Sustainable Farming: What It Means and Why It Matters

Small Steps and Big Bounds: Our Progress in Sustainability

Go Green Employee Resource Groups


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