If we are more aware of our consumption habits such as what we buy, water use, food sources, and transportation, we can all create change.
Sustainability is a big word. But when it comes to our actions, if we all put our grain of sand, it would add up a lot. What we consume in our homes can have a direct impact on the world’s largest and most vital ecosystems, and all we would need to turn the tables on the devastating loss of species and biodiversity is to take action.
This past Earth Day, National Geographic launched Planet Possible, an initiative to empower us to lead lighter lives on our planet. This is a pivotal year. This November, the UK will host the26. United Nations Conference on Climate Change, known as COP26, in Glasgow. With a focus on climate change, sustainability, and biodiversity loss, this is an opportunity for world leaders, scientists, and environmentalists to agree on global and coordinated action. On a planet fatigued by a global pandemic, this may not seem like the biggest concern. But in reality, the health of our world and the emergence of diseases like COVID-19 are related in more ways than we realize. (Keep reading: To prevent pandemics, let’s stop being disrespectful to nature.)
Every one of us can create positive change through the decisions we make every day: here are 28 ways to get started.
Of all the raw materials we extract from nature and turn into products, approximately two thirds to-thirds end up as waste. Therefore, the health of the planet depends on all of us sustainably buying what we need and reusing it when we are done. The shape of a successful and sustainable future is round: a circular economy where we use resources sparingly and recycle constantly. Our idea of a circular economy is one in which waste and pollution are eliminated, materials and products continue to be used, and nature is regenerated, all through design says Ellen MacArthur, a former British sailor. and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Such an economy would balance the needs of society with those of our planet.
Raising and killing 80 billion animals each year to feed us costs our planet enormously, especially for the land needed to raise and grow its feed, whether it be soybeans, corn, or grass, says filmmaker Kip Andersen, producer of the environmental documentaries Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy. According to Andersen, this is the main cause of habitat destruction, water consumption and contamination, deforestation, and fauna extinction. It replaces biodiverse ecosystems with monocultures (soy, corn, or grass) and monospecies (cows, pigs, or chickens). The global market for meat alternatives is projected to exceed $5.7 billion by 2025, and plant-based products are even the most staunch meat lovers, who care about their well-being and that of animals. This, together with the high environmental cost of its production, makes reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products one of the most effective ways of limiting our ecological footprint, in addition to their potential health benefits.
Consider switching to a green energy cooperative. You can also install a smart meter to manage and monitor your energy use and reduce carbon emissions. In the UK, for example, policies promoting coal-free electricity generation and emerging technologies led to a reduction of 67% percent in CO2 emissions from the power sector between 2008 and 2019, and the price of offshore wind dropped from $150/MWh to about $40/MWh, but around 22 percent of the country’s carbon emissions they still come from homes.
We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year – the approximate weight of the entire human population. COVID-19 restrictions have made picnics the ideal way to get together, but they are often not the greenest way to eat, as evidenced by sadly the beaches and parks are plagued with plastic. Faced with this reality, the marine conservation organization Ocean Generation hopes to address this tsunami of plastic waste with easy-to-follow advice at its Picnic Without Plastic Challenge.
Only around 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled and the rest ends up in landfills, rivers, or the sea. Every time plastic goes through the system, it gets recycled less and less well until eventually it can’t be recycled and is burned or buried, explains Jo Ruxton, founder of Ocean Generation. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to get out of this environmental crisis by recycling. So try to bring a cup, a water bottle, and reusable cutlery when you eat out.
Social distancing measures make picnics the ideal way to be with friends, and they can also be great for the planet if you use biodegradable utensils, plates, cups, and baskets.
Having a clean home has never been more important than now, but you don’t need to employ a hodgepodge of toxic products to keep it spotless. Supermarkets are full of plastic-packaged cleaning products that are full of chemicals potentially harmful to the health of humans and the planet. Swap out corrosive bleach for baking soda or vinegar to clean toilets and drains, or switch to milder kitchen and bathroom cleaners by buying from an environmentally responsible company like EcoVibe. Starter packs include refillable glass sprayers and plastic-free concentrated cleaning sachets. You can choose between several exotic scents and everything is delivered in biodegradable packages. You can also try their natural coconut fiber scouring pads. For laundry, the Ecoegg consists of long-lasting refillable eggs, which can save up to 40 bottles of detergent and fabric softener each year. If you are looking for a reusable alternative to kitchen paper, try bamboo towels.
Perhaps you have now focused on reducing your carbon footprint, but are unknowingly contributing to polluting and unethical companies through your future investments? Your bank or pension provider could be financing fossil fuels or deforestation. Learn how your money is being spent and encourage ethical investing.
The sea of plastic that appears on beaches around the world is not the only thing that harms the environment. During the home wash cycle, synthetic materials shed some 700,000 microfibers: tiny plastic particles that are not captured by today’s filtration systems and end up in the oceans, where they are ingested by aquatic organisms. One study has shown that 63 percent of North Sea prawns contained synthetic fibers, for example.
The Marine Conservation Society’s Stop Ocean Threads campaign is calling on washing machine manufacturers to urgently start installing filters that capture the 10 billion fibers that are released into the environment every week in the UK alone. In the meantime, using fabric softener, washing at 30 degrees, washing a full load of laundry, and going from powder to liquid are ways to reduce shedding, explains Dr. Laura Foster, director of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society. A wash bag like the Guppyfriend Washing Bag can also help, reducing synthetic fiber shedding by an average of 86 percent during a wash cycle.
More sustainable toiletries like non-plastic toothbrushes and refillable cosmetic containers, and reusable bags are obvious but important ways to create direct change in personal waste production.
We all love beauty or grooming products, but once we know what works and what we like, buying a refillable container instead of a new jar or bottle can save waste. Fortunately, some brands offer these types of products and many have joined forces with the specialized recycling company TerraCycle, which offers strategic recycling alliances. Look for brands that strive to reduce the number of products that go to waste or work proactively on sustainable packaging; opt for shampoo bars and gels instead of bottles, reusable razors, and refillable natural deodorants, like Wild, to reduce the use of plastic.
Many banks offer the option to disable the receipt of paper correspondence. You can also reduce the amount of advertising that reaches your mailbox by placing a sticker or a sign that says no advertising.
As part of the strategic plan for the transition to sustainable mobility, the English government announced this year its intention to launch a new edition of the MOVES 2021 Plan to continue promoting the commitment to electric mobility. Last 2020, the government set 2050 as the date for the end of the use of combustion vehicles, to achieve climate neutrality and achieve a fleet of passenger cars and commercial vehicles without direct emissions. The bill, which has not yet been approved, establishes that as of 2040 new vehicles with CO2 emissions will not be marketed.
Reducing electricity costs when working from home, wearing cloth masks, considering transportation, and participating in garbage collection and beach cleanups: are all actions with an impact.
Just as world regions were making progress in getting rid of disposable items, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in and created an urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE), which has led to an increase in single-use plastics. An estimated 129 billion masks and 65 billion gloves are used each month, as well as a mountain of protective packaging. The repercussions will be felt for a long time as discarded PPE finds its way into our oceans, but choosing a washable mask can help. For every purchase of two packages of reusable and sustainable organic cotton masks with GOTS certification from the marine conservation organization 4Ocean, you support the cleaning of 500 grams of garbage from rivers, seas, and coasts.
Now that many of us work from home, the efficiency of our office depends on us. Reuse furniture for your workspace and use digital filing systems instead of filling the shelves with documents. Recycle and reuse paper and envelopes, and plant yourself using the Ecosia web browser, which plants trees for every search. Use rechargeable batteries, and LED bulbs and invest in a smart power strip that saves energy. Remember to enhance your efficiency and your happiness with a window, natural light, and plants.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the clearest signs that we must change how we treat the creatures with whom we share the planet. World populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have suffered an average decline of two-thirds in less than half a century. Our destinies are intertwined, so there has never been a more important time to stand up for those who have no voice. Create and sign petitions, peacefully protest, support nature justice campaigns, follow wildlife advocates and wild flora on social networks and urge the people around you to do the same.
You are never too young to be an eco-warrior. It is estimated that eight million disposable plastic nappies are thrown away in the UK every day and each one takes 500 years to decompose. There are biodegradable versions and reusable diapers that are being recovered for life, which significantly reduces waste and costs (an example is the Sumo Diaper, made of algae and paper pulp, by designer Luisa Kahlfeldt). For its part, the carbon-neutral company Piccolo has produced Europe’s first organic and recyclable food bag, which is a breakthrough for an industry that sells more than 60 million non-recyclable bags each year.
Extracting and killing 1.5 billion fish from the ocean to feed humans each year is by far the main cause of the decline in biodiversity that is taking place in our oceans, regardless of whether the fishing practice is commercial, “sustainable” or aquaculture, says the director of the documentaries Seaspiracy and Cowspiracy, Kip Andersen. The ocean simply cannot thrive with this level of looting. Instead of fish, you can opt for vegan alternatives or switch to a plant-based diet.
Shorten showers and take a bag to collect garbage when you go running.
As its name suggests, this activity, born from the Swedish words jogger and plocka upp, which mean running and picking respectively, is a combination of running and picking up litter. The activity is gaining momentum as a way to reduce plastic waste in your neighborhood, for example. the incentive to get in shape and the attractiveness in social networks of a good deed, and also serve to show the magnitude of the problem.
Even though we call it the Blue Planet, less than 1 percent of Earth’s water is fresh and accessible. In fact, in 2017, Spain experienced one of the most serious droughts in its history. Adopt tips to save water from the independent NGO Waterwise to help conserve our precious H2O reserves. An average five-minute shower, for example, uses 45 liters of water; halving the duration or avoiding doubling it can have repercussions both in saving water and in the fuel used to heat it.
Our obsession with technology may be driving humanity forward, but the falling cost of electronics and throwaway culture has made e-waste the fastest growing waste stream on the planet: in 2019, The world produced 53.6 million metric tons of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Just over 17 percent was recycled, with the remainder containing a mixture of hazardous and valuable materials ending up in landfills or dismantled, often by workers in precarious conditions. Be part of the solution by donating electronic devices to charity or taking them to a collection point.
Home-grown tomato plants. In the face of the biodiversity crisis, planting outdoors can help pollinators and create microsystems for insects to live.
According to the English Federation of Gardening Companies, more than 60 percent of English households consume gardening products. Regardless of the size of your garden, terrace, or outdoor space, you can use it to grow food. You can also transform your outdoor spaces into a haven for wildlife by planting native flowers that attract pollinators, avoiding pesticides, and creating a compost bin.
COVID-19 restrictions could have caused a nearly 57 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from flights in Europe compared to 2019, but as airlines return to normal, aviation will be one of the biggest. the biggest ethical dilemmas for environmentally responsible explorers. United Airlines is signing corporate alliances in its Eco-Skies Alliance to buy sustainable fuel and explore direct air capture technology, but today almost all airlines opt for carbon offset plans. Carbon offsets aren’t the solution: They’re a band-aid to buy time, so it’s better to offset than not, says Alexa Portier, co-founder of NOW, which funds projects that align with the Sustainable Development Goals through your NOW Offset Carbon tool.
Travel less but longer, travel by train, ferry, or bike, and book through agencies like Charitable Travel, which donates 5 percent of the cost of the charity trip, or responsible tour operators like G Adventures, which supports community projects, are other ways to reduce the footprints of your adventures.
More and more people are launching to share their trips, both long-distance, with apps like Blablacar, and daily commutes, with apps like Amovens. Thus, not only will you save money, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint considerably, and, in some cities, you will be able to use the lanes designated for vehicles with high occupancy. There are even apps that allow you to find people who want to make the same trip as you in a taxi, such as Carpling.
In addition, the vast majority of owned vehicles spend much of their time parked waiting to be used, either while we work, sleep, or are at the movies. To share our vehicle when we are not using it, or that it is not even necessary to acquire our vehicle, every day more sustainable mobility options arise in cities derived from this type of apps and e-sharing, which allow us to have scooters, bicycles, motorcycles and cars at our disposal in any corner of the city to pick it up by making a gesture with your finger on the screen of your mobile. Being sustainable has never been so easy and so economical!
Like every December, the Government of the United States starts the Deception Island Penguin Sponsorship Campaign, in Antarctica. With the aim that the sponsored penguins manage to survive and reach adulthood, this project aims to spread the commitment to caring for the environment, so that we can make planet Earth a more caring, healthy, and balanced place with nature.
In addition to penguins, the possibilities to sponsor animals in need of help are endless. From dog and cat shelters, to rescue centers for wild animals victims of illegal trafficking, to farm animal sanctuaries, all of them offer the option of lending a hand through the figure of sponsorship. Thus, even from home, you can help any animal that needs it!
When shopping, keep in mind where the food comes from. The further you’ve traveled, the more energy you’ve spent fueling, refrigerating, and, packaging, likely increasing fossil fuel emissions, explains Karen Edwards, author of The Planet-Friendly Kitchen: How To Shop And Cook With A Conscience. Buy local foods at farmers’ markets or small stores, or try growing your fruits and vegetables at home. Organic farming is more environmentally responsible, bees included, while there are organizations like the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation that produce milk and cheese without killing animals. Eliminate unnecessary packaging by visiting zero-waste stores where you can refill your containers. At home, cut down on food waste by planning your weekly meals ahead of time, Karen recommends. Change the plastic film for biodegradable beeswax wrappers.
One billion pieces of clothing are produced globally each year, and an estimated $412 billion is lost each year due to used clothing that is not recycled: every second, an amount of clothing equal to the load is thrown into a landfill or burned. total of a garbage truck. Based on current trends, by 2050 the fashion industry will use a quarter of the global carbon budget. Living in lockdown, many people have abandoned their obsession with clothes, but if you do go back to buying new clothes, avoid fast fashion and opt for quality, ethically produced clothes made with low-impact materials. Share, fix, donate, sell and recycle all the old clothes you can and reuse your old or broken jewelry at the Rejewel Collective, where international manufacturers will turn it into new pieces.
Human habitation, ranching, and, agriculture have left less than 5 percent of Europe in a truly wild state. biodiversity, which is in drastic decline. You can support them by taking part in one of their guided conservation tours, which offer opportunities to see grizzly bears, wolves, and lynxes. In the long term, the recovering landscape will trap more carbon, prevent soil erosion, and mitigate flooding by retaining water, explains TENT founder Paul Lister.
The term electronic waste does not only include laptops and mobile phones: many of the world’s electrical appliances also end up in landfills. Despite the best of intentions, we are tied to the trend of devices and appliances with planned obsolescence, which contributes much to the appalling amount of plastic pollution and electrical waste, says former Dyson engineer and co-founder of Lupe Technology, Pablo Montero. To buck that trend, the company’s efficient vacuum cleaner is made from durable, recyclable plastic and all parts are repairable or replaceable. Getting parts from manufacturers or independent repair shops that fix broken devices, fixing them yourself, selling or donating models you no longer need, buying vintage or refurbished furniture, and supporting ethical and sustainable brands will help prevent these items from ending up in landfills.
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has become an annual event, uniting the planet to take action against climate change and environmental destruction. To celebrate this year’s Earth Day, President Biden convenes the Leaders Climate Summit on April 22, reaffirming America’s commitment to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. ways to restore the planet, and National Geographic organizes a virtual celebration, with concerts by musicians such as José González, My Morning Jacket, Willie Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma, and Ziggy Marley.
Today, we produce and purchase 70 times more than in the 1950s, 99 percent of which becomes waste in the first 12 months after purchase. Remembering the three Rs has never been more important: reduce, reuse and recycle.
For environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, the message is simple and clear. Stop wasting. Stop wasting on everything. Stop wasting energy, wasting food, wasting plastic, and wasting time. This is a precious world and we can all use our actions and our voice to save the planet. We must try, our future depends on it.
Leading a sustainable lifestyle means wholeheartedly embracing respect for the environment and making a positive impact for people and the planet.Click to read on