There are now 1 million species on our planet that are threatened with extinction. Since the Industrial Revolution, 70% of the Earth’s forest has been destroyed, averaging 17 million hectares per year. The mass of floating rubbish dumped in the Pacific Ocean weighs around 870,000 tonnes and consists of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. As a result of increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, wildfires and droughts, the human population itself are more severely at risk of conflict, hunger, and poverty.
And the cause responsible for all this? Careless human activity. For too long, we have opted for a lifestyle that will grant us with short-term convenience, but one that is rapidly destroying our home and all living within it. What we do right now will ultimately decide the fate of our planet. Here are 5 really simple changes to start off with.
1. Reduce Meat Intake
Of all mammals on Earth, 60% is livestock while only 4% consists of wild animals. Of all birds, 70% are chickens and other poultry while only 30% make up other wild birds. It effectively demonstrates how humans themselves have dictated and determined how our planet is occupied, and for one motive only: our insatiable appetite for meat. What’s more, over 1/3 of the World’s land surface and 75% of all freshwater resources are devoted entirely to the maintenance of crop and livestock production. It also accounts for a vast amount of deforestation.
I’m not telling you to suddenly become a Vegetarian or Vegan (although you’re more than welcome to!). Merely cutting your meat intake by a fraction (amongst many other people) will essentially reduce the demand for meat and help reverse the mass amount of land destroyed and devoted for that purpose.
Not only are you helping to save the planet by doing this, but there are also plenty of benefits involved for you. It’ll give you the perfect opportunity to explore a variety of new meals while helping you save on your shopping bill. There are also studies to suggest that stepping away from a diet dominated by meat has multiple health benefits: reduced risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and obesity.
2. Reducing The Use Of Plastic
As you read above, 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic inhabit the Pacific Ocean – making its total waste spread almost twice the size of France. This is detrimental to all marine life that exists within our seas and oceans. Most sea-life mistake plastic for food, but even those that don’t are still struggling to avoid it inevitably getting into their system. It leads to a substantial amount of painful and untimely deaths.
Their deaths are completely unnecessary, and it’s all down to our copious use of plastic. Here are a few really simple ways we can cut down:
- Reduce plastic bags when shopping. Re-use old bags, or simply keep a storage box in your car for you to directly transfer goods from your trolley into.
- Use a refillable water bottle. There’s really no need to keep buying bottled water from the shops when our tap water suits perfectly fine.
- Opt for foods that don’t come packaged in plastic. Purchase fruit and veg separately rather than in those unnecessary packets and look for items that have adopted an alternative packaging method.
- When purchasing plastic is unavoidable, check the label. Some companies care more about recycling than others – the label on the product should tell you if the packaging is recyclable and how much of it has been produced from already recycled material.
3. Reduce Waste Where Possible
When we throw our rubbish out, we rarely pay a thought to where it goes after the binman takes it away. It’s almost like the moment it’s taken off our property it just disappears! Of course, we know where it goes, but are we aware that the amount we’re throwing out is increasingly becoming a cause for concern?
Every year we are throwing out far more waste than our planet can handle. In the UK alone, our households generate around 27,000 tonnes per year. If it continues this way, we will simply have to transform more of our available space to essentially being a gigantic rubbish bin. Effectively, we will just end up living in our own waste.
The damaging relationship between our rubbish and the environment doesn’t stop there. With more waste comes more air and water pollution, a strain on our resources (such as aluminium and trees) and all of our available energy.
There are countless ways to help reduce the amount of waste that leaves our households. For example, before throwing out empty packaging, think whether you could re-use it for something else? Jars could be transformed into pencil pots, flower vases or candle holders. Boxes make excellent organised storage space.
Consider the amount of inevitable waste you are bringing into your household too. Cut as much unnecessary food packaging out of your life. One effective way of doing this is visiting the bulk area of your local store and filling your own containers and masonry with the exact amount of produce you actually need. You could also purchase a reusable coffee mug and ask your local coffee shop to use that instead of a paper cup (many stores now offer an incentive for this).
Food waste is another growing contributor to our overflowing landfills. For a detailed guide on how you can reduce this and also save loads on your shopping bill, have a look at this page.
4. Cut Down On Paper
Around 15.3 billion trees are hacked down every year for our paper supply. 35% of all trees deforested are for this one purpose. We are destroying the homes of thousands of species for something we can too easily regulate.
- When shopping, opt for an e-receipt instead of a paper one.
- Cut out any unnecessary junk mail by unsubscribing from companies you’re not interested in hearing from.
- Inform your bank that you wish to receive your statements and letters through your online banking system.
- Reduce printing by choosing to read content off your electrical device instead.
- If printing is needed, always print double-sided.
- Always recycle paper when you no longer have use for it.
- If you’re a student, think about connecting with someone in the year below you on your course and give them your notes. They then may not need to use paper for their own – plus it’s a really thoughtful and helpful thing to do!
5. Reduce Your Contribution To Air Pollution Where Possible.
Approximately, 7 million people die per year due to air pollution. Harmful gases released into the air account for the vast majority of our climate change. Pollutants such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane raise the Earth’s temperature, putting our poles and all its inhabitants in serious danger, alongside rendering parts of the planet nearer to the equator far too hot to live in. These gases are also responsible for the likes of rising sea levels, more extreme weather events (e.g. tornadoes) and even an increase in the transmission of infectious diseases like Lyme.
In order to save the planet and the climate it has thrived off for billions of years, we need to reflect on how much pollution we as individuals are responsible for emitting and consider how we can cut it down.
- Try opting for public transport (e.g. bus and train) instead of using personal cars.
- Walk or cycle shorter journeys.
- When travelling to nearby European countries, look to see if you can get there by train instead of the plane. The emission released from trains is far less damaging.
It is also far more environmentally friendly to shop with local, smaller companies than with huge supermarkets. Produce is often transported thousands of miles overseas before it reaches mainstream stores, emitting substantial amounts of Greenhouse gases in the process. Local businesses, on the other hand, save our planet from that battering.
It is estimated that our actions over the next 10 years will determine the fate of our planet for the next 1000.
Therefore, NOW is the time to act.