Your eating habits can make quite an impact on the environment. Producing and consuming food is one of the major contributors to nitrogen pollution. A scientist at the University of Virginia has created a new web-based tool that measures your nitrogen footprint so you can take steps to reduce it.
Jim Galloway is an environmental scientist and Associate Dean for the Sciences at UVA's College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He said the nitrogen calculator measures your nitrogen footprint by the way you live, the transportation you use and the goods and services and food you consume. Too much nitrogen in the environment can affect air and water quality.
The calculator shows that on average, Americans consume about twice as much protein based foods each day than recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"If Americans just consumed only the protein, animal or vegetable protein, that they're supposed to consume instead of over consuming we would decrease the nitrogen pollution problem in the United States by a very large number," Galloway said.
Farms often times use fertilizers on crops which creates excess nitrogen. Galloway said producing food generates more nitrogen pollution than actually eating it.
"We want to make sure we get the message across to not only the consumer but the producer saying there are things that can be done to produce the food but lose less nitrogen to the environment in that process," Galloway said.
After reaching the results page, there are recommendations on how to reduce your nitrogen footprint including using public transportation and lowering your thermostat.
Jennifer Von Reuter joined the NBC29 news team in June 2009 as a general assignment reporter. Prior to joining NBC29, Jennifer worked as an anchor and reporter for WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, MD. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story