Whether you are a proponent or opponent of climate change, one thing no one can deny is that humans are producing waste at an all-time high rate. It can be argued that it has a lot to do with the increasing population. Population bloom, though a contributing factor, is not the only factor that is adversely affecting the environment.
You may have seen images of ocean animals such as whales being washed ashore or coral reefs being bleached in various regions of the world. This is because dumping all kinds of waste into the oceans is damaging the aquatic environment. This includes chemicals that run off with water into the sea to plastic that is not biodegradable.
It so happens that human beings are producing so much waste that they have run out of land space to dispose of that waste. As a result, they have taken to dumping that waste into oceans. After all, oceans cover 70% of the earth, so to humans it seems like a good dumping ground. It is not only the water bodies that are suffering, most of the waste that is dumped into landfills is not compostable and the predominantly plastic and chemical waste is also affecting the land or soil.
Waste disposal in itself is a great problem. What if we do not have enough waste to worry about? What options do we have to save our environment? Two things that humans can actively do to protect the environment apart from proper waste disposal are,
- Less waste production
- Energy conservation
How can a layperson go about doing that? These issues are usually handled at the national level. It is not correct! Each and every individual can contribute in saving the environment, the various life forms on earth and improving the quality of life. Saving the environment in this fast-paced world is not the work of a nation but every single person has to chip in. It starts from manufacturing environment-friendly products and goes on to smart use of resources.
Let’s explore few environment-friendly products that you can use to decrease the load on our planet today.
Synthetic plastic is the single most damaging product to the environment. It is responsible for damaging land, air and sea by releasing harmful chemicals into these environments. Since plastic is non-biodegradable, neither land nor sea microorganisms are able to decompose it. The reason it can stay in our environment for hundreds of years. Globally, plastic production jumped up to 381 million tonnes in 2015. That production was a 200 times increase from 2 million tonnes in the middle of the 20th century. We certainly do not want that much plastic in our environment. So, what should we do? Eliminate plastic as much as we can! We can do that by using following environment-friendly products.
Reusable Water Bottles and Straws
Bottled water is a commodity for most of the developed world and it comes in plastic. Around 146 million tonnes of plastic produced in the world is used in packaging and plastic water bottles use up the greatest amount of this plastic. It is quite difficult to eliminate plastic water bottles altogether but opting for an alternative can surely cut down the number considerably. In this case, the alternative for regular use water bottles can be reusable water bottles like those made of glass, aluminium or stainless steel. Billions of plastic bottles are dumped into waste every year globally. Environmental pollution by this type of plastic waste can be significantly lessened if you start carrying reusable water bottles. You won’t be throwing away such a bottle when it is empty. Instead you will search for the nearest place from where you can fill it up.
In addition to not creating more plastic waste by refilling your water bottles, you will also be saving money. Water bottled in plastic bottles should only be used when there is no alternative. Otherwise, buy yourself a reusable water bottle according to your need. The volume or size of the water bottle depends on your need and the amount of weight that you are comfortable carrying with. Another plus is that these bottles are recyclable!
Another thing that you should consider buying are reusable straws. The next time you are offered a drink with a plastic straw, take out your reusable straw. This ensures that you are not contributing to creating more waste.
A commodity that is used worldwide and contributes massively in creating plastic waste is the toothbrush. Plastic toothbrushes are being used throughout the world since past many decades and are found in almost every household. There are only a few places that use the wooden alternative of the modern toothbrush to maintain oral hygiene. Though effective, it is not as convenient as a modern plastic toothbrush. There is another alternative that was introduced recently.
It will help you clean your teeth but not create plastic waste every few months. Now, you can buy a bamboo toothbrush to do your part in saving the earth. Bamboo toothbrushes are manufactured from bamboo, thus the handles are completely biodegradable unlike those of plastic toothbrushes. Moreover, the bristles of these toothbrushes have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, thus ensuring total hygiene of your product and consequently of its use.
Another option is that of toothbrushes without a detachable head. So every time you need to replace a toothbrush, you are not adding to the plastic waste by throwing away the plastic handle of the toothbrush. This is an eco-friendly option but does not really beat a bamboo toothbrush that has the least load when it comes to the environment.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Plastic shopping bags are another source of plastic pollution and need to be eliminated as soon as possible. Many cities and countries have banned the use of plastic bags, as they are the source of choking up drains, damaging aquatic and land life in addition to presenting an unsightly look. As these bags are not compostable, and they are lightweight, a heavy wind can carry them anywhere. Thus, these bags though small can wreak havoc anywhere and everywhere.
The best way to tackle this problem on an individual level is to get some reusable grocery bags. Any time you go out to get something from the market, instead of getting plastic bags to easily carry your things, transfer them to your reusable bags. It’s best if you get bags that are made out of cloth, as they are not only durable but also long lasting.
Another way you can reduce plastic waste is by getting reusable lunch packaging if you tend to pack lunch for your kids or yourself in plastic packaging. Instead of using and throwing away plastic packaging every day, get yourself a reusable lunch packaging.
Reusable bags and packaging contribute massively in decreasing the plastic pollution that has been greatly damaging our planet.
Biodegradable Cutlery – Compostable Trash bags
A lot of us often throw a party for a large group of people but do no really wish to spend a lot of time doing dishes. More people mean more dishes. So the best option in this case is to buy disposable dishes, plates and cutlery. You use it and throw away the used material. This saves you not only your time but also water in washing dishes. Indeed it is a smart way, something that is also helping the environment by conserving water.
However, all is not great with it. Reason is that most of the stuff you throw away is not biodegradable. Either it will sit in a landfill for ages, polluting the soil or it will drift away into the oceans through the water supply. There are a few companies who have thought of a solution to this problem by introducing biodegradable single use plates, dishes, bowls and cutlery. Once you have used these materials you can dispose them into the waste without a guilty conscience. In fact, you will be doing some good for the soil by providing it with compostable material. So, next time you are going on a picnic or are throwing a party, browse the shelves for biodegradable cutlery and plates.
How do you usually dispose off the waste from your home or office? Almost always it is a plastic bag you have to use to transport the waster from your house to the waste-collecting unit. So, even if you are using all environmentally friendly products, you are still a plastic waste generator. That can be quite disappointing for your efforts to be eco-friendly. Modern day advancements have a solution for this as well. Now you can easily get biodegradable or compostable trash bags. These bags upon use will decompose with the passage of time without any damage to the environment. When you are getting trash bags, make sure they are compostable.
Recycling and Energy Conservation!
Recycling is a great way to reduce the load on our environment. You are producing a lot of waste but you are also recycling a great chunk of it. Since the time the adverse affects of plastic pollution have been widely documented, people have been coming up with ideas to recycle the plastic waste into usable commodities. A company recently launched ballpoint pens made from recycled water bottles. In certain less developed regions of the world, plastic bottles are even being used to make makeshift walls. Mobile phone cases are also being manufactured from discarded plastic. Recycling has gained traction in the past few years due to the great load on environment as regards waste production.
In addition to recycled products, people are also coming up with products that consume less energy and also that require less energy during manufacture. Information is readily available in today’s age, so if you want to play your part in making environment healthy and clean do a little research before buying anything. You will be reducing your carbon footprint in the world if you opt for eco-friendly products.
Recycled Paper and Tissue
Paper recycling not only helps in minimizing waste production but also helps in energy conservation. Paper production requires cutting down trees, then the whole manufacturing process requires a lot of water, energy and chemicals. If used paper is recycled, the load of paper manufacturing on the earth is lessened. In addition to recycled paper, tissue is also being manufactured from used paper. Recycled tissue paper can be used in toilets or other places where the quality of tissue paper is not a great concern.
In addition, many other recycled items are being produced. Do your part by looking for the recycle label and try buying the products from companies who are doing their best to save the environment. In addition to recycled paper, some other recycled items that you can find include recycled aluminium foil, recycled floor mats, recycled toothbrush handles, recycled toys to name a few.
If you want to save energy and reduce carbon emissions, then consider buying LED bulbs instead of fluorescent, halogen or incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs convert 95% of energy into light and only 5% is lost as heat. These bulbs reduce the power generation load and thus contribute towards decreasing emission of greenhouse gases. Try replacing the lights in your house with LED bulbs and also educate those around you about this eco-friendly product.
Get rid of Chemicals
There are some products that contain chemicals that are very damaging for the environment. In most cases, you as an individual cannot do much about them. For instance, you cannot urge industries to stop using harmful dyes. Recently, there have been companies that are making a comeback towards vegetable dyes but no one can say if this trend will be adopted again at a mass scale or not. What you can do is to do your part in your home.
The cleaning agents that are usually used in home contain a vast quantity of harmful chemicals. These chemicals pollute the soil, the water supply and often times the air quality as well. You can look for eco-friendly detergents and instead of using bleaching chemicals or the like you can use natural products like baking soda, lemon, borax and vinegar for cleaning purposes. These will neither spoil the soil quality nor will these be a source of water contamination.
These are few of the eco-friendly products that you can opt for in your day-to-day life in order to play your part in saving the environment. We have to consciously work towards adopting a lifestyle that will produce less of a burden on the planet. We need to protect our home and making small changes is the first step in ensuring that future generations will have a healthy living space. The earth’s diversity in the form of aquatic and land animals needs to be protected and pollution is a great problem in this regard. The eco-friendly measure need to be put in place at a mass scale to make sure that we are doing the best to protect all life forms on Earth.