Humans are said to be the biggest threat to planet earth, with that in mind, it’s time we started making a positive change before it’s too late. A big difference that we can make as individuals is to embrace a more eco conscious attitude to the way we live our lives. Climate change is not slowing down, in fact, the climate around us is changing faster than predicted. Some examples of climate change that we experience are unprecedented heatwaves and more storms.
In this article we are going to discuss the importance of being more conscious about the environment and explore the different ways that you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Why is it important to be conscious about the environment
There are a number of things at stake if we don’t start to make a change. This includes global warming, the world is already 1° C (1.8° F) hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900 before the industrial revolution. We know it will be difficult to limit global warming to 1.5° C but we do have the technology to do it.
Other effects of global warming include rising sea levels which could affect as many as 1 billion people by the year 2050. Another impact is coral bleaching as changes in water temperature causes algae to leave coral reefs. You might be wondering why preventing coral bleaching is important as it does not appear to directly affect the human race.
Although the effects do not appear to affect humans, the death of coral is significant. Coral is a crucial eco system for marine life but also acts as a barrier protecting coastal areas from the impact of powerful waves. To put it into perspective, coral is a crucial source of income, food and defence for more than 500 million people worldwide. Here are a list of problems we may face as a result of climate change:
- Ice free arctic summers
- Heat waves
- Loss of wildlife habitat
How can we make a difference to the environment?
The main causes of climate change come from a lot of what we eat, how we get around from place to place and how we power our homes. Statistics show that the average carbon footprint per person in the UK per year is 12.7 tonnes CO2e. So, what can we do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint?
Transportation is now the most polluting sector in the United Kingdom and produced the equivalent of 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) in 2019. This represented roughly 27 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year (Statista).
There are a number of ways you can change the way you use transport to reduce your carbon footprint. If you live in a city there are usually a number of eco-friendly public transport methods available, some of the best include the metrolink or electric buses. Alternatively, if you feel confident enough you could cycle instead which is the most economical way to travel. The best part about changing your main method of transport to cycling is that the benefits go beyond the environment. Cycling makes you healthier, more cost effective and means you don’t have to worry about parking or traffic as much.
Another significant cause of global warming is the energy we use to run our homes. Although renewable energy does account for about 56% of the energy total of electricity, this just isn’t enough. If you want your home to be more energy efficient, it might be worth considering getting solar panels for your house or looking into solar community projects in your area. It may be worth contacting your energy supplier to check if they offer renewable utilities, and if they do make the switch.
Another cause of climate change is food. Many humans in the western world are unaware of how their wasteful attitudes towards food has a significant impact on the environment. When wasting food it’s important to consider the bigger picture, it’s not just the food being wasted but also the water, harvest, transportation and packaging that goes into it that is wasted too.
As Well as food waste, the production of foods and in particular meat is a significant driver of greenhouse gas emissions. On an annual basis, 3.8tn cubic meters of water is used by humans and 70% of that is consumed by the global agriculture sector. In order to keep up with the growing demand for meat, much of the livestock industry has moved to factory farming. This is a problem because the quantities of manure products at factory farms leads to increased levels of toxic waste. 16% of the world’s methane emissions are produced by livestock such as cows and pigs.
As the demand for goods increases so does the need to produce these items. The production, materials, transportation and chemicals that go into making many consumables has a significant impact on the environment. Once upon a time, when an item broke, we fixed it. Today, when an item breaks, we replace it. Although this may seem good for the user as they get a brand new item, it’s important to think about where the broken item ends up- which for the most part will be in a landfill. This goes for clothes, technology equipment and more. It’s not just the waste of these items that is bad though, many items emit toxic chemicals that are released into the air and others use a lot of resources to make.
Here are some examples of how you can change the products you buy to become more environmentally friendly:
One small change you could make is when you next come to decorate your house by opting for an eco friendly paint. What many people don’t realise is that standard wall paints often contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to both us and the natural environment- these chemicals are more commonly known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs contribute to the ground level ozone layer which makes them a pollutant. To avoid them we recommend switching to a low VOC paint alternative instead- one of the best brands is Victory Colours. Not only is there paint eco friendly and low voc, it is also ultra low odour and vegan. Other products that contain VOCs that you might not be aware of are air fresheners, cleaning products and glue.
Hair and body shower products
Products like body wash, shampoo and conditioner are damaging to the environment yet many of us continue to use them regularly. Blissfully unaware that these products are full of chemicals that are released into water supplies. This can be harmful to the animals that drink the water and aquatic life. Moreover, many of these products come with non recyclable packaging and bottles. To avoid this issue, we suggest switching to an eco-friendly product, there are options such as soap bars, shampoo and conditioner bars which avoid the packaging and use more sustainable materials.
Since 2013, evidence has shown that the number of wet wipes and makeup wipes to wash up on British beaches has increased by 50%. The reason for this is that people thoughtlessly flush them down the toilet rather than putting them in the bin, this leads to them littering our coastlines. Plus, they don’t break down easily and use ingredients that can be toxic to the environment they end up in. If you do use wet wipes, make sure to put them in the bin, however if you want to make a real difference, try using reusable wipes that can be washed and used time and time again.