How to protect the planet
because there is no Planet B
With the increasing tragic news regarding global warming, dying oceans, and endangered animals flooding us on a daily basis, it’s can seem overwhelming. We know that this is a problem but it can be difficult to know where to start. It may seem like the actions of one person won’t make a difference but if everyone thought this all throughout history, change would never come. People of colour would still be segregated, women wouldn’t be able to vote or have jobs, the list is endless.
Sustainable living is really not as hard as you think. It only requires two simple things: compassion and open-mindedness. Compassion to drive the willingness to help protect the planet and open mindedness to be able to receive knowledge and believe that change can happen.
We need to all start being responsible adults and understand that we individually have an obligation to protect the planet. Why should the future generations have to suffer for our mistakes? Of course, we all
have our own personal problems going on which can make it difficult to step outside of our bubbles and see the bigger picture. However, when you take the gravity of your individual problem in comparison to the planets, it can really put things into perspective. To be blunt: your problems aren’t going to matter if none of us are here.
The above statement might seem dramatic but here’s something to put it into perspective; The earth is 4.6 billion years old. Let’s scale that to 46 years. We have been here for 4 hours. Our industrial revolution began 1 minute ago. In that time we have destroyed more than 50% of the worlds forest. That’s just the forests. What about the animals, pollution, energy, water?
I know I’m not the only one that is scared by these facts or thinking about what there is to do in order to help the planet. Here are 5 ways to help mother earth and make a fruitful impact on the planet’s condition…
Shop the look
Unfortunately, this compassionate lifestyle results in a lot of anger from non-vegans. (No one likes being told they are abusing animals… but well they are and I was too.) Whilst, yes, Veganism is a lifestyle which by definition is about animal welfare, it is also about the incredible positive effects it has on the planet. What many don’t realise is that animal agriculture isn’t just about what’s on your plate. It’s not just food, it’s responsible for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, as this is a multi-billion industry and so many people have chosen to stay ignorant, the topic isn’t being spoken about enough but the facts are right there. Every time you pay for a chicken club sandwich or order that bloody steak with chips you are actively contributing towards the destruction of this planet and for what? a ‘tasty’ meal that you won’t even remember tomorrow. Is it really that worth it? Are you okay being that selfish?
Without going in to too much detail; Meat production requires vast amounts of energy. Fossil fuels are burnt in the raising, slaughtering and transportation of animals. Livestock and their by-products account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, a meat diet has twice that of someone on a plant-based diet.
Water scarcity is a very real issue, with over a billion people living without sufficient access to clean water. Whilst a soy burger has a water footprint of 158 litres, a beef burger has a water footprint of 2,350 litres, which is over 14 times as big! With so many people living in areas without access to fresh water, why are we wasting so much of it producing animal products when we can get all the nutrients we need from plant-based foods? For our taste-buds?
There are so many more environmental issues caused by animal agriculture and it is inarguably the most detrimental to our planets wellbeing. Going Vegan truly is the best thing you can do for the planet as well as your own health, the health of your loved ones and that of all farmed animals.
Recycle Recycle Recycle
It’s time to wise up to waste. There really isn’t much of an excuse when it comes to Recycling. With our growing concern for plastic waste, recycling has never been more convenient. It’s such a simple thing but has immense impacts on the planet. Here are a few easy tips to recycle effectively:
Buy rechargeable batteries. It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery. When you are discarding your batteries, recycle them. Most grocery stores and communal places such as your local library will take batteries.
Reuse your morning coffee cup. Buy a thermal travel mug to avoid the waste caused by throwing away the paper or Styrofoam. I did this throughout university and the barristers are more than happy to use your personal mug, moreover, it’s much nicer to drink out of your own mug with the knowledge that you know where it’s been.
Try not to shred paper. Shredding is sometimes unavoidable, especially when dealing with private documents. But you should not be doing it solely to fit more into a recycling bin. If the pieces of paper are too small, some recycling centres will not accept them. Leaving paper outside, or exposing it to the elements could also alter how much of it gets recycled.
Consider donating your unused clothes and items to charity. Likewise, think about buying things second-hand. You’d be surprised on the hidden gems you can find in a charity store. I’ve personally found some amazing things including designer pieces for super cheap that are practically immaculate!
Check out Recycle Now for more information and discover where you can recycle locally.
Reduce your plastic consumption
With plastic so ingrained into our daily lives, it can feel impossible to reduce our plastic consumption. However, it’s really not as difficult as it may seem. It really is the small things which add up. Here are a few things I personally do to reduce my plastic consumption:
Buy loose fruit and vegetables. My friend in university wisely pointed out how silly it was to buy packaged bananas when the loose ones worked out much cheaper. Look at it logically; you’re paying extra for someone to package your fruit and vegetables. Not only is this a very easy way to reduce your plastic usage but it will also save you a few pennies!
Put empty cardboard boxes in your car to transport heavy items to and from your car without a bag.
Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it! I would also recommend investing in an aluminium lunchbox instead of the usual plastic ones you can get. It keeps your food fresher and they’re generally more pleasant to eat out of. I recommend the famous bento boxes.
Don’t use cellophane wrap. If you need to keep things like half an avocado (happens to me all the time!) use foil or parchment baking paper.
Say no to disposable dinnerware. Instead always use real silverware for parties instead of plastic. There’s really no need to use otherwise.
Cut your energy use
Electricity is such a mandatory from of energy for the modern world, it would be pointless asking for people to stop using it because it’s just simply not possible. However, there are lots of ways to reduce our energy consumption…
Turn off your appliances. It’s so simple, simply turn off the electricity you aren’t using. Leave a room? Turn the light off! Leave the house? Turn the plug to the television off. Not only is this going to help the planet but potentially loosen the numbers on your bills too. Just one switch and you’re done!
Chose the right lights. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient lighting option. They use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They also have no mercury, and last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Choose an energy-efficient fridge. Your fridge and freezer is working non-stop and the energy it consumes adds up quickly. To use less energy, keep your fridge at between 3 and 5°C and your freezer at -18 °C. If it’s practical, place your fridge away from your cooker and make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight – it will operate more efficiently if it’s in a cool spot.
Consider your modes of transport. Sometimes, this really isn’t a possibility but whenever possible it’s a good idea to leave your car at home and walk, cycle, catch public transport or car pool.
It’s terrible to think that currently 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. I’m so grateful for the life I have been fortunate to have but water has always been at the very top of the list for my gratitude- along with having a roof over my head. We are so lucky to simply walk four foot to our kitchen and have an abundance of water readily-available. Like everything else, it is our responsibility to save as much water as possible instead of just wasting it. Here are four simple ways to do just that…
Turn off your taps. A dripping hot water tap can waste enough hot water to fill half a bath in just one week, so fix leaking taps and make sure they’re all fully turned off. Whilst brushing your teeth or washing your face, make sure you aren’t leaving the tap running.
Do your laundry in bulk. Fill the washing machine before using instead of just washing a few items and using up more water. When possible use a setting of 40°C or even 30°C. By doing this you also reduce your electrical consumption by 33%.
Invest in a dishwasher. Ironically enough, filling up your dishwasher completely each time you run it, uses less water than you would doing the washing up. Yes, even if you’re using a washing-up bowl. What better excuse to go and have a nice sit down?
Time your gardening. Water outdoor plants in the early morning or at the end of the day to stop water immediately evaporating in sunlight and heat. Water the soil so that the liquid goes straight to the roots, where it’s needed. Not only will this save water, but it will mean less work for you and your plants are more likely to thrive.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
How are you helping the planet?