While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.
This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.
Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.
For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!
Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.
You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!
It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.
Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.
Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.
Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.
A few extra tips
Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.
Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!
Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.
Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.
Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!
As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.