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Living more sustainable - WHY and HOW

Updated: Mar 30

The global climate change (sorry, CRISIS) has been recognized as one of the most important environmental challenges to be faced by humanity in the 21st century.


On September 20th 2019, more than 7 million people around the world went on strike against the climate crisis which destroys our planet and threatens millions of plants and numerous animal species to become extinct within the next decades. This month, on November 29th, Fridays for Future, the Youth Climate Strike movements, students, teachers, and individuals all around the world are going on global climate strike again.


This (very real) crisis can not any longer be ignored. Everybody can make a difference. In favor of the global climate strike, we decided to write this blog post to raise some awareness on how and WHY to live more environmentally friendly.


If you think now, “oh wow, another blog telling us how to be more sustainable. Why should I even consider reading it?” then listen up - do you even know WHY you should avoid plastic and CO2 emissions? No? Then go on reading and we will shortly explain you WHY.






WHY is plastic problematic for our environment?

  • Plastics are slow to degrade and plastic pollution can affect land, waterways and oceans. Each year, an estimated amount of 1.1 to 8.8 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste enters the ocean.

  • Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year: from birds to fish to other marine organisms.

  • Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.

  • Most of the deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation. Seals, whales, turtles, and other animals are strangled by abandoned fishing gear or discarded six-pack rings.

  • Microplastics have been found in more than 100 aquatic species, including fish, shrimp, and mussels destined for our dinner plates.(Microplastics are the worst!)

  • Plastics have also been found to have blocked digestive tracts of animals, causing death.

  • Stomachs so packed with plastics reduce the urge to eat, causing starvation.

  • Plastics have been consumed by land-based animals, including elephants, hyenas, zebras, tigers, camels, cattle, and other large mammals, in some cases causing death.

  • Effects on humans include, and are not limited to, a disruption of various hormonal mechanisms.


WHAT to do

The solution is to prevent plastic waste from entering rivers and seas in the first place. This could be accomplished with improved waste management systems and recycling, better product design that takes into account the short life of disposable packaging, and reduction in manufacturing of unnecessary single-use plastics.


What YOU can do

  • Bring your own shopping bag. Try to avoid plastic bags.

  • Same for supermarket shopping. You can easily carry your fruits and veggies without any plastic bags.

  • Bring your own reusable coffee mug, water bottle, food containers and utensils instead of using disposable ones.

  • For your lunch (at school/work): try to avoid waste by eating home cooked meals, portioning correctly and using your own cutlery.

  • Say no to disposable straws and yes to bamboo or metal straws.

  • In general, try to shop more bamboo alternatives (e.g. tooth brushes)

Actually quite easy, right?



WHY is importing food bad for the environment?

  • The least environmentally friendly way to import and export food is by air and yet is the most quickly expanding method of transporting food (high CO2 emissions).

  • Food imports increased from 13.5m tonnes in 1992 to just over 16m tonnes by 2002.

  • Whilst only 1% of food is transported by air, it accounts for 11% of carbon emissions.

  • Rainforest the size of ten football pitches is felled every second, some of which to make room for exported food crops.

  • Since 1992, the amount of food flown by plane has risen by 140%.


What YOU can do

  • Try to eat fresh, local and seasonal food to avoid long import ways.

  • Try to buy fair-trade goods which support third world communities (and are usually transported by sea and not air).



WHY are fossil fuels and CO2 emissions bad for the environment?

  • Greenhouse gas levels are so high primarily because humans have released them into the air by burning fossil fuels.

  • The gases absorb solar energy and keep heat close to Earth's surface, rather than letting it escape into space. That trapping of heat is known as the greenhouse effect.

  • Climate change encompasses not only the rising average temperatures we refer to as global warming but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas, responsible for about three-quarters of emissions.

  • CO2 can linger in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

  • CO2 emissions mainly come from burning organic materials: coal, oil, gas, wood, and solid waste.


WHAT to do

Virtually every sector of the global economy, from manufacturing to agriculture to transportation to power production, contributes greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, so all of them must evolve away from fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.


What YOU can do

  • Reduce transportation which releases CO2 emission (e.g. cars, planes, boats and ships)

  • Going on foot or riding a bike saves a lot of emissions.

  • Reduce imported goods (e.g. food, clothes, etc.)



Please keep in mind, everybody can improve their sustainability. We aren't pointing fingers here, because obviously, non of us is living a perfect sustainable lifestyle either - but we are trying, and that is what matters.












Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/greenhouse-gases/

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