Inside Scoop: Learn the simple ways to protect the environment and our planet today!
This article was submitted by Samantha Lee Guyatt, Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
Have you noticed a difference in weather patterns in your lifetime?
The idea of global warming or climate change is a hot topic. It is accused of being hyped, exaggerated and even challenged to be false.
Here are some recent changes that you may be aware of: records for heat and cold are broken each year, snowfall in the Sahara Desert, and increased energy in tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. We all learned in school that the Earth cycles through ice ages and warm periods, however the speed of change is now becoming faster than ever before.
Scientific data can be found on the web by the United Nations, David Suzuki, Al Gore and visually depicted in award winning documentaries composed by Leonardo Decaprio (Before the Flood) and Al Gore (Inconvenient Truth).
What exactly is climate change?
Our earth is estimated to globally rise in temperature 2-4 degrees during the next 50 years.
Using glacier examination and weather balloon recordings over the Pacific Ocean, it has been recorded that over the past 650,000 years the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is at a record high, and still climbing.
CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas’, meaning that as it accumulates in the atmosphere it traps the sun’s rays which raises the surface temperature of the Earth and warms the ocean. As ocean waters warm, glaciers melt, coral reefs die and ocean currents are quickened this can result in more powerful storms. One of the biggest concerns is the melting of the glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. As these massive sheets of ice melt, there is a rise in sea levels. To put that into perspective, Al Gore in his movie the Inconvenient Truth, speaks about how the melt water from Greenland will raise sea level by 10-20 meters over the next 15 years. Areas in New York, India and many coastal islands would eventually cease to exist.
So, how can WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
How can we save the planet? Impact the environment positively? Really make an individual difference and what are the best ways to protect the environment today?
There are 3 mains areas that we can focus on as consumers to create the change.
- Plastic usage
- Carbon & methane gas footprint
- Chemical residue & run-off
As we collectively focus AND REDUCE these areas of consumption, we can globally spread change.
Ways to Protect the Environment Today
One of the biggest pollutants to our ecosystems is plastic. Once created, the material is here to stay. We have been loading landfills with 50 BILLION TONNES of plastic over the past 60 years.
Think of all the plastic used on a daily basis: it wraps produce, lines boxed foods, seals bottles, transports our shopping, and is the material for water bottles, baby bottles, containers and more!
Now, think about how much of the plastic we use only gets one use and is then tossed. Where does it go next?
The options are few: buried into the ground, or washed into the ocean.
The rate of accumulation is exceeding our ability to deal with the waste. Is it really that bad?
Search Great Pacific Garbage Patch into YouTube or Google, it is the largest accumulation zone of ocean plastic on the planet, 3 times the size of France, and contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. That is 250 pieces of plastic for every human in the world!!!!
Think about lifestyle: how long does it take you to reach 250 pieces of tossed plastic?
While change will not happen overnight, one of the simplest ways to protect the environment is by making some small changes at home. A couple of books I have read with great ideas are: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson and Simple Matters by Erin Boyle.
Here are some easy ideas to reduce your individual plastic consumption:
- Buy brands that skip excessive plastic wrap.
- Buy loose produce and skip the thin plastic bags used to separate veggies from touching.
- Buy from a market, bring jars to bulk stores and to the butcher.
- Own a tote bag (for shopping and groceries).
- Use a reusable water bottle/juice/food containers and choose to recycle as per your city’s recommendations.
Our gas footprint is the amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere.
As explained by Al Gore, in 650,000 years the CO2 level has never gone over 300ppm (parts per million), currently we have surpassed that reading and each year it continues to increase. The relationship with CO2 in the atmosphere is related to the temperature: more CO2=higher temperature (because it traps suns rays).
Carbon is released through burning fossil fuels (such as driving), but also in the manufacturing of plastic, products, boxed and bagged (processed) food and clothes.
Ways to protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint:
- Walk, bike, share a ride, use public transport or methods of transportation that are gas-free or split amongst many people.
- Reduce industrial produced foods, clothes, products and furniture.
- Read ingredient labels to avoid ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, cottonseed oil and palm oil- these industries are linked to deforestation, chemical spray, high water consumption and mass-industrial production. Choose to buy things locally, support community-run operations and brands.
- Monitor the home bills, choose to use less heat and air-conditioning when possible.
METHANE GAS EMISSIONS
Another topic worth mentioning is methane gas. Compared to carbon, methane gas takes longer to leave our atmosphere and traps more heat.
One of the biggest producers of methane gas are cows and animal agriculture. They produce methane through their waste and during their digestion of grain.
World-wide more land is used for cultivating grain for animal feed, versus for growing crop for human consumption.
A couple of ways we can make a difference is:
Find healthier ways to enjoy meat like supporting local farms and butchers who practice traditional farming methods and raise animals on grass versus grain. This will also benefit us nutritionally because animals grown with grass are happier and healthier compared to animals grown with grain in confined spaces.
Reduce consumption of animal-products and add more plant-based meals to your diet that can be just as delicious. This doesn’t mean giving up your steak, but enjoying a variety in your diet and perhaps adding a meatless day every week which is not only great for your health, but for your wallet as well.
Download a list of the healthiest protein sources (both plant and animal-based) so you can add some variety to your diet, your health and the health of the planet.
CHEMICAL RESIDUE & RUN-OFF
Just like plastic, some of the chemicals created by humans are here to stay!
Over the years, many have become banned for protection of our own health and the eco-systems.
We have to stay conscious that whatever we flush down our toilet or sink, wash down our driveways and streets, leak from our machines and houses all ends up into the cycle of water on our Earth.
On the Government of Canada website about Climate Change it states that the most common chemicals leached in our water system unknowingly are pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, gasoline, other industrial/nuclear chemicals, and landfill run-off.
On a personal level, bath and body products, home cleaning products and prescription pills. Living in populated cities, we have access to drinking water that has gone through regulated water treatment establishments. We are less exposed to the impacts that occur with rural communities that rely on groundwater.
Humans Right Watch publishes about First Nations communities that are struggling due to contaminated water sources. E.coli from animal agriculture, uranium from factory waste and other dangerous run-off that is increasing cancer in various rural communities.
Here’s what we can do to protect our environment:
- Raising awareness and protecting conservation areas from trash pollution.
- Participating less in products and actions that produce chemical waste and residue. Some examples are looking to support farmers that practice multi-crop farms versus single/mono-cropped commercial farms. Traditional farming techniques produce healthy soil and rely less on pesticides and fertilizers.
- We can support local animal and dairy consumption as well.
- In regards to both food, beauty and cleaning products we can stay conscious of companies that make an environmental effort. Various icons to look for are the rainforest protection, fair-trade, USDA organic, and eco-cert. Many companies have moved towards paraben-free and natural-derived/organic ingredients (versus synthetic).
While all of this may sound scary or overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Start with what you can and even changing one habit can greatly benefit our environment, eco-system and our planet Earth.
Overall the energy we emit is the energy that continues. As we are proud and stay conscious of our actions, other people become aware of their own.