The Sixth Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made more people than ever start thinking about how to fight global warming caused by the climate change. The good news is that literally everyone can do something in respond to the crisis; from choosing responsible leaders in elections and supporting green organisations to changing consumerist lifestyles, bad habits and having more sustainable lives. Every vote we made, every carbon dioxide emission we cut, every liter of water we save, every piece of meat we refuse to eat or every rubbish we recycle would help. All of this, if we do it together, may have an impact on climate and would help to slow the destabilisation of our planet.
Fortunately, the changes we have to make don’t need to be very radical. More notably, they will bring benefits not only to the whole planet, but also to our health, quality of life and sometimes would even help us financially. Change doesn’t require me and you to turn everything upside down. Every little counts from individuals, as long as authorities and businesses do their bigger parts.
And obviously our world requires fundamental system change from governments in regards to the use of fossil fuels (which caused 8.7 million deaths alone in 2018 according to “ScienceDirect”) as well as deforestation, waste management, water and air pollution. We desperately need our leaders to set and follow goals adequate to the threats we’re facing. It requires new global laws and legislations, as well as wide education and support for the public. Our good attitude and giving an example to other people can’t be underestimated, as it would obviously put much more pressure on politicians.
The sad truth is that we all are parasites on Earth. We’re the worst that has happened to biodiversity and environment on this planet. We want to fix it now, but there are no such things as products or technologies good for the environment. If something is “eco” or “environment friendly” it just harms our planet less. Nothing is black or white. Changing all destructive human behaviours is impossible, but we can always limit the damage and find a better way.
“There is no going back – no matter what we do now, it’s too late to avoid climate change and the poorest, the most vulnerable, those with the least security, are now certain to suffer” – David Attenborough (English broadcaster, natural historian, author and environmentalist).
Unfortunately, we still can’t agree on particular topics. We want to save the word, but we have different ideas about the best way to do so. For instance, activists keep arguing whether nuclear power is green enough or not, vegans see only “one right way” and demonize all meat eaters and greedy companies keep deceiving all of us selling bad products labelled as sustainable.
The IPCC report is really terrifying, but at least it made me educate myself and eventually write this article. Perhaps my guide will clarify the most important topics related to sustainable living and the climate change or get you involved even more into our climate change fight!
|What does the IPCC report say and why it matters? The report published in August 2021 by IPCC (United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change) reveals, that in the best possible scenario, if we stop the emissions of greenhouse gases very soon, we’ll still face inevitable changes in Earth in the upcoming decades. |
Since the preindustrial era (1850-1900) average temperatures on the planet have risen by 1.2℃. This is due to the highest ever level of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere by humans during the industrial revolution. These gases keep the heat on Earth, causing global warming. As a result we already see unpredictable weather conditions, anomalies and extreme temperatures. Many areas may soon become inhabited due to heat, while greater sea level will threaten cities and countries. We will see catastrophic events such as fires, floods, extreme winters, or long summers with heat waves becoming a new normality. This means destabilising our planet by mass extinction of species, breaks in water supplies, hunger and eventually migration of millions of people. According to The World Bank, 216 million people will migrate until 2050, mostly to the big cities.
The IPCC report proves that it’s no longer possible to stop global warming at or below “safe level” of 1.5℃, which was the goal set in the Paris Agreement in 2015. In fact, if we don’t act immediately, we may reach even 2℃ in next 20 years. In the worst case scenario, if the emissions remain high, temperatures will rise to 4,4°C compared to preindustrial era, until 2100. We missed our best chance to prevent it six decades ago, when the problem was firstly reported to the leaders of so-called “western world”. Now it’s our second best chance to fight it and slow it down.
Comprehensive Guide On How To Live A Sustainable Life & Care About The Environment In 5 Steps
1. Proper use of all our democratic rights is the single most important thing to do in regards to the climate crisis.
It’s a cliché, but choosing responsible, reliable and effective leaders will push our world to a better future. Therefore don’t vote for climate change deniers, politicians with other priorities or those who are not effective or give empty promises. They belong to the past. We need to act right now to slow down global warming and prevent climate crisis. There’s no more place in politics for people who don’t understand that.
Before you vote, do your research, as not every politician who seems to care about our planet really knows how to do that. The debate about sources of energy is the best example. If we want to move away from fossil fuels releasing greenhouse gasses while burning – mostly carbon dioxide – we have to go for a clean, renewable energy mix with nuclear power as its key part. The United Nations and recently the European Union along with top climate scientists and some modern green organisations back this plan. It’s also a conclusion of most studies of this subject. Still, many politicians, green parties and organisations like “Greenpeace” or “WWF” irresponsibility oppose the nuclear power plants. The idea that the energy produced only from solar, wind and water sources will work everywhere in the world and gives us enough power for the growing population is just naive.
We will also assess how the gas, electricity and ETS markets function.
We need more renewables. They are cheaper, carbon-free and homegrown.
We also need a stable source, nuclear, and during the transition, gas.
This is why we will come forward with our taxonomy proposal.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 22, 2021
The truth is that no energy source is perfect or fully green and all of them have pros and cons. Nuclear energy with its third and fourth generation plants has to play an important part in the mix, though. Otherwise we’ll not get a reliable energy source, delay the switch and make some poorer countries occasionally coming back back to fossil fuels.
Using the right to vote is one thing. Getting involved in “green” initiatives and spreading scientific knowledge are the next best forms of use of our civic rights and duties. It’s crucial to demand action from politicians, therefore attending climate change marches and demonstrations is important. We should support trusted non-profit organisations and environmental activists by following them, donating, attending events, volunteering, sharing their work etc. Don’t do that alone, get your work or school involved with “green” ideas and initiatives, too!
One may say that politicians don’t really care about those initiatives and activists. But they’re still millions of people who confuse climate change and weather or may not believe in global warming. They don’t know what sustainable living really is. May not realise why biodiversity or clean oceans are so important. Or how everything on Earth is linked and why we rely on it. We have to educate and influence them. Make them curious, make them hear us, lead an example. We must get united and have one loud voice supported by the media. A voice above nations, genders, skin colours or political views. Together we’ll be able to choose the reliable leaders and put enough pressure on them, so they will care and they will act, not just talking about it.
2. Our society must break the chain of consumerism. More responsible approach to shopping and avoiding egocentric lifestyles are the keys.
If we go to the root of what caused the climate crisis, our consumerism is arguably the first to blame. In the XX century rapid development in many aspects of human life – medicine, science and technology – made people live much longer and better. World’s population grew rapidly despite two deadly world wars – from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.9 billion in 2021. Bigger and wealthier population and longer life span mean bigger demands, especially for food, but also for goods and services. The industrial revolution answered these demands; today we know on what cost.
We got used to a certain level of life and started to have more and more personal needs. We created a capitalistic lifestyle that supports materialistic, egocentric, narcissistic and selfish attitudes and social inequalities. These behaviours are enemies of sustainability and biodiversity, as they cause more greenhouse gases emissions, create more waste and different kinds of pollution. We need to learn how to control this consumerist attitude and remember that in the poorest countries death from starvation or lack of clean water still happens.
“The end of human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson (American essayist, lecturer and philosopher).
The idea of degrowth is getting popular in recent years, as well as upcycling or minimalist lifestyle. But as I mentioned earlier, changes don’t always have to be very radical. Why not to start with these three simple and easy to follow ideas? (And then go further if they work for you.)
Stop and think every time you want to buy new stuff!
Do you need this? Will you really use it? Do you want it just because it’s pretty or because it’s a bargain? Answer these questions in your mind every time before you put something to your shopping trolley.
Don’t upgrade your one year old phone or laptop because commercials ask you to do so. Don’t get a new clothes collection or new shoes if the old ones are still fine. Refrain for buying hundreds of toys for your children. Avoid products to be used only once, whether they’re recyclable or not. Fix things instead of buying new ones. Choose second hand items instead of new ones. Plan what you want to cook and buy only required ingredients. Make a reasonable shopping list and stick to it. Or simply think about spending your money on a great vacation instead of unnecessary stuff!
Try to make your shopping and living more ecological.
There are plenty of ecological products on the market; cheap items of everyday use (food, washing products, cosmetics etc.) and expensive things to be used for years (electric non-emissions cars, energy and water efficient kitchen appliances etc.). New technologies allow us to build an ecological house, while “green” vacations are getting more popular.
It’s a good thing to go digital wherever you can. For instance, choose paperless bills that can be downloaded online, buy entry tickets that can be kept in your smartphone, make notes in designated apps instead of using more paper etc.
Last but not least – choose eBooks or audiobooks over traditional books (depending on the source, type of book and kind of tree – from 30 to 100 books can be produced from one tree; 30 millions of trees are cut every year for textbooks only, according to the University of Michigan).
Note that it’s not all about what you personally do for the environment, but often what messages the businesses and companies will receive about your needs and likes.
Re-think your means of transport and move around more wisely.
We’re in constant move, unfortunately transportation is strictly related to greenhouse gasses emissions. If you can’t afford an electric car yet, why not to use a car less in the first place? You can travel to work or school by public transport or in one car together with your friends or colleagues. For short distances you can walk or cycle and your health and well-being will only benefit from that.
It’s good to decrease the amount of flights we take by choosing the trains on the short routes, as domestic flights are responsible for the most CO2 emissions. Another idea is to go for longer vacations less often, than shorter breaks a few times per year.
3. Limiting our waste and managing it more sustainably is crucial to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and… saving loads of money!
The amount of waste every single person produces each year is tremendous. It’s way much more than only the rubbish we bring from shops (plastic, paper, cardboard etc.) or unwanted items we throw away. More importantly, shocking amounts of food, water, electricity and heat are wasted, too.
Limiting every day waste is both effortless and beneficial.
Dealing with every day waste is strictly connected to our consumary way of life, which was explained in the paragraphs above. The conclusion is obvious; if you buy less and stick to what you truly need, you’ll create less rubbish.
Additionally, try to avoid a single use plastic and non-recyclable items (both plastic, glass and others). Think about boycotting food wrapped in unnecessary packaging and things that you can live without, such as balloons, straws (made from any material) and others. For work or school buy a reusable mug, water bottle, thermos, plate and cutlery instead of getting new ones every single day. All of this is good for environment and it’s a money saver, too!
Second-hand market is getting bigger and more popular.
Don’t throw away your old, used or unwanted stuff! The fact that you don’t like it any more doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t. Go to second-hand shops. Ask your friends or colleagues. Organise a clothes swap among your mates. Go online to sell it or give it for free. There are plenty of websites where people in need or those who believe in degrowth are looking for… literally everything. More traditional option is donating unwanted items to appropriate organisations, charity shops or to use clothes containers.
Disgraceful amount of food waste amid humanitarian crisis.
Food waste is perhaps the most concerning of all. According to “The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation” about ⅓ of produced food is wasted, half of it at customer level. That’s around a billion tonnes of food thrown away every year! It proves that hunger in the world isn’t caused by lack of food, but uneven distribution and transportation issues. Overall, food waste leads to 6-10% greenhouse gases emissions per year because while food rots it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas even more dangerous than CO2. All of this may be fixed if we stop wasting food, simple as that.
It’s really not a rocket science. We must buy only the portions of food that we will indeed eat. Let’s check our fridges regularly and use or freeze things that are about to expire. (Refrain from throwing away food with expired “best before” date, as it’s just about quality, while only “used by” label tells when the food is no longer edible.) Rotting fruits and vegetables may be blended and easily used for delicious smoothies or healthy soups. All the leftovers from home or restaurants (they’ll surely pack it for take out if you ask) may be eaten at work/school for lunch on the very next day, which is yet another way to save a decent amount of money annually. And finally, there’re charity organisations or shelters looking for food donations, local food banks, groups in social media helping to share food and even apps giving you more ideas on that topic.
Water and energy waste are part of a problem.
We may not realise that, but it’s important to save energy and water at home for environmental and ethical reasons. The good news? There are plenty of ways to do so.
If your home appliances need replacing, choose energy efficient washing machines, fridges, dishwashers (which also save much water compared to washing dishes in the sink), TVs etc. Swap your bulbs for LEDs which saves loads of energy and money, as they live up to 90% longer. Turn off the light and air conditioner if you’re in a different room or outside. More often choose a shower instead of a bath to save even more water. Turn off water taps when not in use, e.g. while brushing your teeth or cleaning something. If you have a garden or balcony, collect the rainwater in containers for your plants.
One of the greatest ideas for saving at home is insulating its walls, roof and windows. It makes a home warmer, significantly lower both energy use and your bills (as reportedly a third of the heat is lost due to bad insulation). Another option is switching to newer, greener and more efficient heating systems.
Recycling and proper waste management.
Always segregate all the waste by using proper bins or bags. Try to recycle certain materials, although it’s confusing as rules vary in different countries. For example, in some regions it’s required to clean recyclable materials before throwing them away, in others due to a better systems it’s discouraged and seen as a waste of water. Sometimes an item that is produced elsewhere is labelled as recyclable, but in your country it may not be under the recycle scheme yet. That often happens with different kinds of “soft” plastics.
Search online for the waste management rules wherever you live (or check signs on the bins if applicable) and follow them to refrain from waste contamination. Moreover, as mentioned before; while shopping always try to avoid excessive packaging, even if it’s recyclable.
4. Choosing to eat less meat is the next right thing to do. Whether becoming a flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan it would always make a difference! Support banning factory farming worldwide and controling production of animal-based food.
A massive reduction of meat consumption is essential for our planet’s future. It is very well documented that the meat industry is responsible for about 14% of greenhouse gases emissions as well as deforestation, soil erosion, pollution and wasting incredible amounts of water and food for livestock. If we don’t eat far less meat it will only get worse as our population grows and the demand will grow accordingly. Ethical reasons (animal cruelty and abuse) and bad influence to our health are another factors.
How to eat animal-based products and sleep well or why veganism is not the answer.
I’m a flexitarian which means that instead of eating meat everyday, I’m trying to do that only occasionally. I can indeed imagine the world being almost entirely vegetarian or pescatarian in a distant future. However, I strongly oppose extreme and orthodox narratives from the majority of vegan activists (which doesn’t mean that going vegan is wrong, especially if you have diet-related health problems) because in my opinion they do more harm than good.
Firstly, most vegans activists focus too much on negative campaigns towards meat-eaters. They play “blaming games” instead of talking about positives of giving up meat or dairy. Most marketing experts would agree that a successful campaign is based on a positive language and a good message, which is not the case with majority of the vegan campaigns I’ve seen so far.
Secondly, we ourselves are animals after all and our digestive systems are designed to both plant and animal based products. Eating too much meat, especially red one, is unhealthy, but a strict plant-based diet is also problematic for our health.
Besides, producing some of the most popular vegan food such as avocado, soybeans, almonds and particular fruits do actually a big harm to the environment, too. According to a recent studies, becoming a vegan cuts your annual CO2 emissions in half (which is huge!) but becoming a vegetarian cuts only a little bit less (and is so much easier!). These emissions are still there anyways, as they are strictly connected to food production (as well as deforestation and use of water).
And finally, food is a crucial part of our culture. Giving up meat, eggs, cheese and thousands of others milk-based meals would never be accepted by the majority of the world. And this is a must to make any difference in regards to climate change. In fact, that kind of extreme demand may be too overwhelming for some people and make them stop thinking about improving their diets whatsoever. Extreme ideas never work for a large scale. Therefore going vegan, ignoring the cons of that kind of diet and living with a false hope that the rest of the world will follow, is not a solution. At least not for our climate.
But the point is that whether you agree with me or not, let’s focus on the common goal instead of that argue. Let’s work together on reducing meat consumption and on animal welfare and try to ignore the differences in approach. Do whatever is suitable for you and your wellbeing; go vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian or try at least to avoid red meat, which is the worst for our planet by all means. Any of that would be beneficial for the environment, animals and all of us.
However, if you still struggle with changing your diet, choose to do something else. Don’t buy cheap low quality meat from supermarkets that is coming from unethical factory farming. Choose organic meat and eggs coming from free range animals, preferably from local farmers that you trust. Try to reduce or eliminate meat from your kids diets, as they’re not used to certain types of food yet and the switch wouldn’t be that challenging for them.
Improving your diet is a great start, but we need to change the laws globally in regards to factory farming and meat production.
Eliminating or limiting meat, dairy and other animal-based products from our diet is good, but doesn’t make the bigger problem disappear. We need politicians to change the global laws and write new legislations. First and foremost they must ban factory farming everywhere. Make it illegal to cage all animals big or small, keeping them in inhuman conditions without compassion, giving them antibiotics for fast growing, feeding them with inappropriate or low quality food, and killing them in a cruel and painful way. We need a system change as animals should be raised in the open air and fed in pastures, like they used to be before the era of factory farming. If we want that to work, the new laws must come with support for small, diversified farms, global education and promotion of balanced and healthy diets. We also have to be ready to pay more for meat.
In some European countries caging small animals is already banned. The entire EU will ban caging small animals such hens, rabbits, quails, ducks and geese from 2027 which was initiated by the petition that collected over 1.4 million signatures – says “The End of Cage Age” report. That proves that changes are possible and we need to continue this path. Perhaps another way out in the future is starting to grow meat in laboratories, using the “in vitro” method.
I’ve mentioned earlier “organic meat” that is now easy to find in shops everywhere. We need a new and clear regulations to define what organic meat really is. Then we have to control organic meat farms strictly and regularly; mass producers too often lie that they care more for livestock under that label, but in reality they don’t. More about other unfair marketing practices in the final point below.
5. Let’s stay away from marketing tricks, misleading campaigns and fake news. Many businesses pretend that they want to make a difference, but they just want to make more profit above all.
Since taking care of the environment and preventing climate change have now become a global movement, it has forced companies to adjust. While number of them did a pretty good job, others don’t understand the crisis or still try to get more money at every cost. They use our lack of knowledge by substituting one dangerous technology or ingredient with another, often stating that their products are afterwards “greener” or healthier. If there’s something worse than customers ignoring the problem, it must be when they actually try to live more sustainably, but they unconsciously don’t due to marketing tricks and misleading information. Find out few of the most common examples below.
Fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets as “organic” are usually not worth buying!
Fruits and vegetables sold in big supermarkets as organic/bio or eco (names varies in different countries) are usually worse for the environment than the “normal” ones. That’s a fact.
Surveys say that people buy more expensive organic/bio/eco fruits and vegetables because they’re healthier, taste better, have no pesticides and are good for the environment or biodiversity. However, there’s no science to support any of that.
Scientists prove that there’s no difference in taste or nutrition value between those fruits or vegetables. Pesticides are used for both organic and non-organic food; the difference is that only natural pesticides are used for organic food, while synthetic ones are in use for non-organic (while the volume may be bigger, organic is not synonymous for safer or less poisonous). As already told, there’s no such thing as food production good for the environment. The worst is, however, that growing organic fruits and vegetables is clearly less effective than “normal” ones. In practice it means up to 20% more soil required (which causes even bigger deforestation and erosion) and considerably more greenhouses emissions and water use.
It’s so heart-breaking to go to the supermarket, even if it’s an organic vegetable section… I know that a lot of people can’t afford the organic vegetable section. But whether it’s organic or not; you come home, you empty the shopping bag which we bring with us, and by the end of putting your vegetables and your food away you have got a pile of plastic. A pile of plastic every time you go shopping. That just feels dirty having it in your kitchen. And you’ve just bought it, you spent money on it.
I know that every time we’re going to the supermarket we’re looking for a deal. But there’s something wrong with a bag of sprouts costing 30p. There’s something wrong about the chicken costing €5. Something wrong because that chicken was born, probably never saw a daylight, it was fed (…) killed; someone’s was paid to kill it, it was defeathered and machine probably did that, it was chopped up, it was put into a plastic container that costs money, it was put into a box that costs money, it was put to a truck, the transport costs money; the petrol, the tolls, it was brought to a shop, it was shelved; the person who shelved has being paid. So the price of that chicken is not 5 euro. The price of that chicken is more like 30 euro and it’s not right – Glen Hansard (Irish musician, song-writer, actor and activist).
In summary, organic/bio/eco fruits and vegetables from supermarkets have nothing to do with sustainability. Due to their higher prices, they are a waste of your money. If you really want to get the best possible fruits and vegetables, just buy them directly from local farms, visit farmer’s markets or grow some of them in your garden. If it’s not an option where you live, buy only seasonal ones in supermarkets, without organic/bio/eco labels. Avoid those which are imported from distant countries or wrapped in plastic, as they’re not environment-friendly at all.
Additionally, don’t buy cheap flowers in supermarkets, as they are transported in very low temperatures thousands of miles, causing a big and unnecessary carbon footprint.
|Plastic Sea: It’s worth mentioning that both organic and non-organic fruits or veggies may be also coming from enormous networks of greenhouses. The biggest such network in the world, the so-called “Plastic Sea” in Almeria (Spain), is visible from space. I was once passing it on vacation and found it very depressing. Most importantly, it has a catastrophic influence on the environment and creates inhumane working conditions for workers. Often underpaid and exploited migrants, that can be named modern slaves. Sadly, Almeria supplies a majority of most popular supermarkets in Europe. This is a real price of the cheapest groceries. Completely other way of future sustainable farming works for Netherlands, which is for a change a positive story worth following.|
Palm oil is terrible for the environment, but boycotting it is even worse.
Palm oil is undeniably destructive for the environment. It’s being produced mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia where it causes deforestation of most biodiversity forests on Earth, destroying the habitat of already endangered species (e.g. orangutans and rhinos) and causes greenhouse gases being thrown into the atmosphere.
Palm oil may be found everywhere; about 50% of supermarket’s products are said to contain it. Surprisingly, it’s not only in human and animal food but also in cosmetics and even fuels. Some customers decided to boycott it, so many brands started to advertise their products with “No Palm Oil” label. Ironically, this is actually even worse for the planet.
Palm oil is very cheap and common for a reason: it’s extremely efficient and versatile. It means that switching to other vegetable oils will require – according to “WWF” – from 4 to 10 times more land which would spread the problem of deforestation and destroying habitats to other parts of the world. And the “No Palm Oil” label most certainly means switching to other sources of vegetable oils.
Buying “RSPO certified” palm oil products, which theoretically should support sustainable production and protect the environment by setting the standards, isn’t a solution either. According to “Friends of Earth” and other sources, RSPO is not trustworthy. There’re misleading conditions, lack of control or sometimes only paid memberships for businesses. The best option – but temporary and far from perfect – is discouraging people from boycotting palm oil, switching to a healthier diets and looking for new technologies for the future.
Healthy Food Shops are not always that healthy.
Organic Stores and Healthy Food Shops are getting more popular nowadays but it doesn’t mean we should entirely trust them. I’m sure there are proper shops of that kind, and others still offer plenty of good products to help the environment and encourage healthy diets. Unfortunately loads of them often mislead customers and spread false ideas about what sustainability and healthy diet really are.
Most common examples were already described and explained in this article: organic fruits and vegetables (unless it’s stated they come from local farmers) and some of the most popular plant based products that are actually destructive for the environment, any food imported from distant countries or wrapped in excessive plastic, as well as products containing replacements for palm oil.
Furthermore, food containing loads of sugar (e.g some of the most popular plant based milk drinks), glucose-fructose syrup (non-healthy replacement for sugar), some of the food supplements (not examined products from abroad that actually may cause a harm to our digestive systems), items advertising themselves as not containing GMO (producers are spreading fake news as there’s no scientific proof against it and if used properly, GMO may be the answer for hunger or weather anomalies in some parts of the world) and junk food (crisps or chocolate bars which may be vegan but in general they’re unhealthy and promote bad eating habits).
Avoiding plastic is more problematic that you’d think.
It became fashionable to avoid a single-use plastics. Some countries even start to ban them. We, as customers, have already put loads of pressure to manufacturers. After some improvements they now advertise their products as biodegradable or they switch to a different material. While the biodegradable plastic is a move into a better direction, getting rid of the tiniest items like straws, bags or cups doesn’t really change much for the environment. Some animals will still die because of biodegradable rubbish. More notably, cotton and paper bags have a much worse impact on the environment than plastic in almost every aspect, except plastic pollution of the oceans and sea life.
Furthermore, product’s packaging may be fully recyclable or biodegradable, but what if the actual food inside is still unhealthy for us or causes deforestation? Companies are smart enough and know how to give a false impression. They sell an unhealthy beef burger in an ecological box, free range eggs in a plastic tray or juice with a paper straw, but full of sugar and preservatives…
Sadly, if we swap plastic to paper, it causes the cutting of more trees in Asia. Glass may be better, but majority of those bottles are also a single use and (if recycled properly, which is not always a case) they will be processed in big factories, causing more pollution. Once again, our consumerism is to blame.
Plastic is everywhere but it’s not that bad. In fact it was a great invention changing our lives in many aspects, way beyond the food industry. The real problem is not the plastic itself, but the plastic waste that we don’t know how to deal with. Therefore if we really want to make a difference we need to work on new technologies to utilize and recycle plastic in the best and the most ecological way instead of throwing it away to the oceans. Let’s spend budgets on that, not on swapping it to other materials and then advertising those products as environment-friendly.
Save natural forests instead of growing millions of new trees.
Growing new trees is always a good idea, but the news being spread behind it are simply not true. The public usually think that growing a million trees means there’ll be a million trees to absorb carbon monoxide and slow the climate change. Sadly, scientists say that around half of them may not survive the next few years, some others may be lost as they’d not adopt to upcoming global warming. Apparently it matters what kind of trees we grow and where. It must be also said that those trees require a few decades to get big enough to help with the emissions, anyway.
Also, we can’t compare artificial forests to natural ones; in fact they may even suffer from a lack of animal life or biodiversity. Along with growing new trees, we have to do whatever it takes to save those who are already there. Nothing will ever replace wild natural forests, their biodiversity and environmental value. If anything, growing new trees should be seen as additional help, not a solution, but campaigners don’t tell that too often.
In summary: act NOW to deal with climate change!
Climate change was caused by the richest countries and biggest industries but affects the whole world. It’s already hitting the poorest people hardest. It’s the single most serious crisis that humanity has ever faced. We need to act both globally and locally to stop it. We must start with changing our destructive habits and reckless lifestyles. All of us, lead by effective and responsible politicians and leaders. Because we all hope that next generations will not curse us for irreversible damage done to our amazing planet.
I encourage you to do some more research and talk about climate crisis with your friends and family. For starters, I recommend the following sources that this article is mostly based on, as well as recent David Attenborough’s movies:
- The climate disaster is here (The Guardian)
- What is climate change? A really simple guide (BBC)
- Acting on Internal Climate Migration (World Bank Group)
- How green is a nuclear energy? (Physicsworld)
- Only Nuclear Energy Can Save the Planet (The Wall Street Journal)
- Experts: The Only Way To Save The Planet Is Nuclear Energy (The Byte)
- It’s Not a Competition, But Renewables Are Beating Nuclear Anyway (Bloomberg)
- Why nuclear plants are shutting down (VOX)
- Capitalism is killing the planet – it’s time to stop buying into our own destruction (The Guardian)
- Fight climate change by preventing food waste (WWF)
- Why the vegan diet is not always green (BBC)
- Vegan v flexitarian – which will save the planet? (BBC)
- If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer (The Guardian)
- Are organic plant-based foods better? (The Green Vegans)
- End The Cage Age. Why The EU Must Stop Caging Farm Animals (Compassion in world farming – PDF)
- Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK (Springer)
- Palm Oil. The World’s Most Popular Oil (WWF)
- Why palm oil is bad, but boycotting it even worse (The Green Vegans)
Research and writing this article took me almost two months. All donations and promoting it in social media will be much appreciated.