Today marks World Environment Day, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our environment. Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.
It’s easy to be filled with despair when thinking about the state of our environment and the future that it is predicted to face. If we continue to ignore our deteriorating environment we could be set to lose a million species in the next 30 years, have more plastic in the ocean than fish biomass by 2050 and a 3°C increase in global temperature by 2050. Scientists have warned that a warming of 4°C is incompatible with an organised global community and would be devastating to the majority of ecosystems, leaving the planet “beyond adaptation” to such climate changes. These trends not only endanger our environment, they endanger our existence and it’s up to us to combat our climate crisis.
Each World Environment Day is organised around a specific theme that draws attention to a current environmental concern. This year’s theme is “air pollution.”
About 6.5 million people worldwide die prematurely from air pollution, and not only is it affecting our health but it is also causing global warming. The UN estimates that if we reduce emissions from air pollutants, we could slow global warming by up to 0.5°C s over the next few decades.
Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, but only 12 per cent of cities have air quality measures that meet the World Health Organisation Standards, according to the UN Environment.
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom when thinking about the state of the environment, there are solutions! Hundreds of communities and groups are finding pathways to restore and protect our planet, reduce plastic consumption and ensure our planet has a sustainable future. You can be involved too!
Here are five easy ways you can make a difference and help ensure we have a long and sustainable future!
- Reduce Your Plastic Intake
This may seem like a no brainer, but reducing your plastic intake helps reduce the amount of plastic that is dumped into the ocean. Each year, 13 million metric tons of plastic leak into our ocean, five trillion plastic bags are used and one million plastic water bottles are brought every minute! These numbers are sure to make you cringe, especially at the thought of that much plastic in our ocean, affecting our sea life. Here are a few ways you can reduce your plastic intake:
- Take reusable bags when shopping
- Stop buying bottled water
- Bring your own thermos to coffee shops
- Say no to plastic straws! Kmart has some cheap reusable metal straws for only $3.00!
- Don’t buy pre-chopped veggies that are wrapped in plastic, just buy the whole veggie and chop it yourself!
- Bring your own reusable produce bags to the supermarket
- Invest in a Diva cup to make your period waste free!
- Cut back on cling wrap and buy some reusable stretchable lids
- Carpool whenever possible
All of our cars driving everywhere is taking a toll on our environment. Whenever possible catch a lift with a family member or even a colleague that lives close by or better yet walk or ride your bike! It not only will have a positive impact on our environment but will help you save money on petrol.
- Cut down on your meat intake
Cutting down on your meat and dairy intake is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to scientists. Farming animals for meat and dairy require huge amounts of space, water and feed. One of the biggest causes of forest loss is the expansion of agricultural land for animal feed production, such as soy. Producing meat creates larger amounts of carbon dioxide than plants such as vegetables, grains and legumes. You don’t have to go fully vegan, however simply choosing to eat meat free one day a week can certainly make a difference. Give #MeatFreeMonday a try, who knows you might actually feel better without meat and animal products!
- Watch what you buy
We’re all guilty of purchasing things we probably don’t really need! Not only is purchasing unnecessary items hurting your wallet, it is hurting our environment. Buying less will save your money, reduce waste and improve your environmental footprint. Living a less consumerist lifestyle can benefit you and our planet. Use your purchasing power and make sure your money is going towards positive change. Support eco-friendly products which are less damaging to the environment and that are better for you! These include purchasing eco friendly cosmetics, toiletries, shopping at thrift shops and supporting local farmers by purchasing your veggies at local markets.
- Save Energy!
Energy efficient lightbulbs are a simple way to reduce the amount of power you use. Not only will this help the planet, it will also save your bank balance too. By replacing just one lightbulb, the effect can be tremendous. If every house in the US did this, it would reduce pollution by the same amount as removing one million cars from the road! Other simple ways to reduce electricity, is unplugging/turning off appliances that are not in use, hanging your washing outside whenever possible, turning off lights that aren’t needed and ensuring your heating/cooling systems are only on when necessary.
For more information on World Environment Day and how you can help, click here.
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