Our planet is our home, the place that sustains us, but are we living in harmony with nature? It seems like we humans have embraced a path of self-destruction, destroying the very home that shelters us. From rising carbon emissions to deforestation and land degradation, anthropogenic activities have detrimental effects on our ecosystems and environmental biodiversity. Not many are aware that the United Nations General Assembly had declared 2011-2020 as the “Decade for Biodiversity”. We are in the final period of this crucial decade. Despite several strategic plans and initiatives to mobilize people at different levels, we are miles behind in achieving the stipulated targets. The negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems conservation indicate that we need to do a lot more.
Are you sure you know what concrete steps can you take in your life to show your concern for the environment? Many of us believe that we lead lives that respect nature, but our consumption habits give us away. Many little habits that seem to be sustainable are polluting. We will show you the five mistakes that are the most harmful to the health of our planet.
Whether it’s gas, food, clothing, cars, furniture, water, toys, electronics, knick-knacks or other goods, we are all consumers. The key is not to stop consuming but to be mindful of our consumption habits and how each purchase or action affects the ecosystem.
The good news is that it’s often not too difficult, expensive, or inconvenient to become more environmentally friendly. It can even be a fun challenge to implement among your family or coworkers. And though small changes at the individual level may seem trivial, just think how much cleaner the planet would be if everyone adopted even a few of the following behaviour modifications.
Ways To Protect The Environment
Curbing consumption can have a huge impact on the environment. The three “R’s”—reduce, reuse and recycle— get a lot of attention, but the planet could benefit from some focus on the most important and most underrepresented “R”: refuse.
When you refuse, you say “no,” which is not always easy. Freebies at events, cheap goods on clearance, the hot new children’s toys or the latest gadgets that promise to make your life better—none of these are essential. And they almost always end up either in the trash or forgotten in the back of a closet. So next time you’re tempted to purchase or accept a non-essential item, think about whether it would truly improve your life. If not, it’s ok just to say, “No, thanks!”
Bonus: Refusing to allow unneeded items into your life can save you money and reduce the amount of clutter in your home.
Reuse and Recycle
Reducing the amount of “stuff” you consume has the greatest benefits for the planet. But, of course, it’s best to avoid waste in the first place, so think more carefully about your purchases.
What do you do with your old textbooks and novels that are not in use? Why not donate them to juniors or kids in your neighbourhood, or send them across to countries where children have little to no access to educational resources. While books aren’t doing any harm sitting on a bookshelf, why not save resources by putting them to reuse?
If you can’t refuse it, and you can’t rot it, and you can’t reduce it. And you can’t upcycle or reuse it then it’s time to turn to the final “R”—recycling. First, educate yourself on what can and cannot be recycled in your bins at home. Throwing the wrong items in the recycle bin can result in an entire load being rejected, which means back to the landfill.
You can also easily find out how to recycle special items such as electronics, batteries and appliances. Check with your local municipality for drop-off sites, and make an effort to get your items to the proper disposal sites.
Similarly, recycling unwanted paper will reduce the raw material demand for paper production, thus conserving trees and forest ecosystems. From online assignments to writing e-exams, thanks to the advent of technology, paper isn’t something that is necessary anymore. By using smart technologies that are available today, we can effortlessly shift away from paper-based activities at all levels.
Reusing items saves the natural resources and energy needed to manufacture new ones and saves money.
Another “R” that doesn’t get much attention but has important environmental implications is “rot.” As in, let your food and yard waste rot naturally in the soil instead of sending it to the landfill. In other words: compost.
Composting your food scraps and yard waste offers double rewards: it keeps an incredible amount of trash out of the waste stream, and it produces free, rich soil to use in your garden. In addition, some cities now pick up organic waste alongside regular trash and recycling pick up. If your area doesn’t offer this service, no worries— you can set up a low-maintenance compost pile in your backyard.
Only Buy What You Need
Lastly, think about your purchasing habits. Do you buy too many products? Can you do without some of the things that you often buy? Are you a responsible consumer? Simply buying more because of tempting offers or discounts will actually cost us and the environment more. Whether it’s groceries, clothes, accessories, or home products, you reduce the amount of waste generated and thus pollution. As natural resources are limited, our excessive consumption can be counter-productive and undermine our planet’s biodiversity.
Decrease Meat & Dairy Consumption
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. With the increasing demand for meat, livestock farms have gone up significantly over the last few decades. As livestock release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, excessive meat and dairy consumption have detrimental effects on our climate. Additionally, unsustainable dairy and cattle farming leads to the destruction of ecologically important areas such as wetlands and forests. Deforestation required to house animals like cows and chickens are damaging habitats and natural ecosystems, where hundreds of species depend on each other for survival. Thus, we can only prevent more damage by being responsible and eating less meat and dairy products.
While we’re on the topic of shopping, it’s important to think about the path your stuff takes just to get to you. All that packaging, combined with the fuel needed for delivery, really takes a toll on the environment. So instead, check out your local farmers market for fresh, package-free food; try eating at a farm-to-table restaurant; and buy from local artists, clothing makers, and retailers before you click for that two-day shipping.
Use Fewer Chemicals
Want to protect the environment? Use fewer harmful chemicals, and you’ll be on the right track. It’s hard to be sure about the long-term negative effects chemicals can have, both on our bodies and on the planet, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. Instead, opt for chemical-free lawn and garden care, all-natural beauty and hygiene items; natural household cleaners; and organic food. The Earth will thank you!
Plant Pollinator-Friendly Plants
Help butterflies, moths and other pollinators without breaking the bank by adding a container of nectar plants to your doorstep, balcony or back garden this spring. Plots For
Pollinators is a project for everyone; you don’t need a garden or green fingers to grow a plant that will help our struggling butterflies and bees.
Buy Sustainable Products
Plastic is one of the most significant contributors to soil and marine pollution, endangering land and marine life. Plastic isn’t biodegradable and is often consumed by animals who mistake it for food. When buying a product, be aware of its environmental impact and disposal after use. Companies are now being questioned on their ecological footprint, and changing consumer habits are compelling them to become more sustainable. Several sustainable brands are available today, and it is easier to find out about the products’ origin, materials, and recyclability. When you’re stocking up on school or office supplies like folders and pens or buying toys and home accessories, try to look for more eco-friendly alternatives that can replace plastic. For example, some of us use so much plastic from buying bottled water every day, when buying your own reusable water bottle is cheaper and much better for the environment.
Also, buying local products and produce is a great way to minimize carbon footprint, as goods don’t have to travel long distances and consume more fuel for transportation. Do some research and find out about the local eco-stores and farms in your area. Supporting small businesses is also great for the local economy because you’re sustaining your area’s economic activity and job creation.
Use Less Water
Conserving water at home is one of the easiest ways to protect the environment. First, think of all the times you consume water, both inside and outside your home; then, make adjustments as you can. For example:
- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Make your water use more efficient by aerating faucets, using sprinklers that reduce runoff and installing low-flow toilets and efficient showerheads.
- Collect and use rainwater for watering plants.
- Shorten your shower by a few minutes—or skip it altogether if you don’t need one that day.
- Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full.
These are just the basics—you can get really creative when it comes to conserving water.
As you can guess, we’re quite fond of this method of protecting the environment! Anytime you can use less electricity, it’s a win for the planet. Try some of these quick ways to conserve energy around your home:
- Trade incandescent bulbs for more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
- Use smart power strips, which turn off the power to electronics when they’re not being used. (Or, simply unplug power cords from the wall when items aren’t in use.)
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat.
- Maintain your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
- When it’s time to buy a new appliance, choose an Energy Star-certified model.
- Seal air leaks around doors and windows.
- Ensure your home is properly insulated to the recommended level of heat resistance (“R-value”) for where you live.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer.
Start Your Own Initiative or Volunteer With Environmental Organizations
Whether it’s something small like starting a community clean-up group or building a large social organization with significant reach and impact, taking initiatives for environmental conservation can go a long way. There are many successful youth-led environmental organizations and NGO’s across the globe that are leading by example today. However, if you’re not up to it, you can also impact the environment by getting involved with local non-profits and assisting the environmental community groups. There are several ways to get involved, from running online awareness campaigns to offering practical help like beach clean-ups and fundraising events.
As we sit at home, many of us are drawn to our various screens throughout the day. Yet, we have all the information we could ever need right at our fingertips, so take time to read reputable sources and be mindful of how the world is changing around us. Knowledge is power; one of the greatest ways to have an impact is to be aware.
Pollution prevention reduces financial costs (waste management and clean-up) and environmental costs (health problems and environmental damage). In addition, pollution prevention protects the environment by conserving and protecting natural resources while strengthening economic growth through more efficient production in industry and less need for households, businesses and communities to handle the waste.
The world is our home, and we all share it. However, you can make a difference by reducing your carbon footprint, recycling more often, and investing in renewable energy sources like solar power.
Frequently Asked Questions About Environment
Why is nature so important?
It underpins our economy, our society, indeed our very existence. Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we irrigate our crops with. Yet, because nature is free, we often take it for granted and overexploit it.
Why should we protect our environment?
Protects our Ecosystem. Our environment is what houses and helps our ecosystem grow and thrive. Without protecting and taking care of our environment, we’re putting so many lives in danger, such as animals, plants, crops, and even our own. All of the ecosystems that make up our environment are deeply connected.
Who is responsible for environmental issues?
Two-thirds of Democrats and independents say the environment is the government’s responsibility, while 57 per cent of Republicans say it is the concern of individuals.