Why Environmental Sustainability Matters and How You and I Can Contribute
7 Easy Ways To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint —because we should celebrate Earth Day every day!
Going Green is the need of the hour to make sure we leave a planet for future generations to live in. It is a long and winding road fraught with hitches before we get there.
I was recently doing some research for a client while writing about environmental sustainability and was shocked to find some facts.
There is an increasing concern over the potential impact of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide on global warming and climate change.
Why be afraid of greenhouse gas emissions?
Greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane occur naturally. As long as they are in balance there is no problem. When the emissions of these gases increase, heat and light are trapped in the atmosphere, resulting in a rise in global temperatures. An abnormal increase in temperature causes a negative climate change, which in turn affects all living beings. When this happens continuously, life begins to die.
Reducing the carbon footprint
The carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emission each individual is responsible for. While the primary carbon footprint is about direct Carbon Dioxide emissions caused by running vehicles and other appliances, the secondary carbon footprint has to do with indirect emissions such as using non-environmentally friendly products. Through sustainable living, individuals, government, and businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and preserve our precious natural resources.
While individuals can follow a number of methods to practice sustainable living such as watering the lawn in the morning rather than in the middle of a hot and sunny day, composting waste to convert into fertilizer, carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads, and using biodegradable products, serious efforts must be in place to reduce the carbon footprint of the country as a whole.
Environmental Sustainability — A Critical Issue
In a world with dwindling resources, environmental sustainability plays a critical role. Sustainability refers to the ability to cater to the needs of the current and future generations through the careful use of available natural resources. With the rapid increase in population, urbanization, and global warming, the challenges faced by cities are also on the rise as limited resources must be shared with more and more people.
Eventually, the goal of environmental sustainability is to ensure that people live in energy-efficient buildings, use environmentally-friendly transport, contribute to a cleaner environment, breathe clean air, and use energy with care.
Environmental sustainability is not alone
The issue of environmental sustainability is closely interlinked with social and economic development. Unless the environment is managed wisely, the ecosystem will be disturbed beyond repair.
At the basic level, sustainability simply means that our survival depends on the natural environment, which must be preserved through innovative programs. Since the challenges that come with sustainable development are many, the development programs must involve the city’s residents, businesses, and government.
According to Siemens, the industrial giant, cities use about 75 percent of the energy available, 60 percent of water, and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gases produced all over the world.
I know we’re going downhill with our collective lifestyles when it comes to saving the planet. The solution to this problem is doing what we can by going green.
Here are 7 easy ways you and I can reduce our carbon footprint and save the earth
Buy from the local market which sells locally grown produce. This is more eco-friendly and involves less transportation. I was horrified to read that coffee often has a big carbon footprint considering the distance it has to travel by the time we pour it into our coffee cups. I felt just a bit relieved to think we live near the plantations from where we get our coffee. Phew! And I also cut it down to two cups a day.
Watch that packaging
These days, most of the supermarkets that were way too generous with their plastic bags have stopped issuing them for free. Instead, they charge a nominal amount for a bag.
But this is not a solution. A better way to go green is to carry your own reusable bag. Remember how we used to, a couple of decades ago? Those days, our local grocery shops would always pack in newspaper or brown paper bags. Why not get back to that? Get a smart tote bag — you’ll be going green even as you add to your style!
Cut down on bottled water
All those plastic bottles. Enough said. Even if plastic bottles are recycled, not all are. It is so sad to see them lying around everywhere.
Saving energy around the house
Some easy ways to save energy around the house:
- Change your light bulbs to CFL or compact fluorescent light bulbs which save 75% energy.
- To save on cooking fuel, I plan and use my pressure cooker to cook, so that what remains to be done only takes ten minutes.
- Like your food hot? Use a hot pack rather than reheat.
- Switch off lights, fans, and other gadgets when not in use.
- Make it a point to switch everything off when you leave the room.
- Unplug after you switch off. Leaving that plug in your plug point consumes energy.
- When you go out, ensure all lights and other fixtures are off and water taps are closed.
- Fix leaky taps and faulty electrical points.
- Use appliances only when necessary.
- Cut down on disposables and go for reusable or recyclable.
- Don’t print it if you don’t need to.
- Buy only energy-efficient Energy Star-rated appliances.
- Use public transport whenever you can.
I am sure you can think of more ways.
Try window shopping when you want to shop
One of the best ways you can practice going green is to only buy what you need. If it is a want, try window shopping. Think hard: do you really need it? Impulse buying has a way of adding to your carbon footprint. So be conscious about your spending and save money in the process. Why feel guilty later? And hey, carpool when you go out!
Enjoy time with family and friends
This is a great way to go green and a personal favorite. Cooking for larger groups saves time and energy while letting you enjoy priceless moments with those you love. Walk, don’t ride! Enjoy nature.
Finally, the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buy less. Reuse what you have. Fix that which is fixable and usable. There are so many ways to make wealth out of waste. Follow the rules when it comes to segregation in the garbage disposal. Rather than throw away something in good condition, donate. It is also a good way to stay clutter-free. Check out the Freecycle network in your area to give away stuff you don’t need.
You and I can make a difference. We can save the planet.
Let’s do it!
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