Protect Our Planet On Earth Day And Every Day
Our planet is special. Not only is Earth our home, but it is the only planet we currently know sustains life. This makes it extremely unique and precious. Even though we may be looking to one day inhabit space and other planets, that future is still far away. Until then, we rely solely on Mother Earth to provide for us and to protect us. In turn, we must be aware of how our behaviors threaten the ecosystem, and take action to protect our planet.
Make Earth Day Every Day
Earth Day is the global event held annually on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. You can learn all about it here. Certainly, a week of eco-friendly activities, awareness and activism can do a lot of good. However, the damage we inflict on the planet every day cannot be undone in just a day or week.
“When we heal the Earth, we heal ourselves.”~David Orr
There are many small actions that we can all do in our daily lives that will add up to a greater impact. So let’s take a look at some of the the things we can do to help protect our planet today and for the future.
Support The New Plastics Economy
One of the greatest negative impacts to the environment is plastics. These materials are incredibly useful in our daily lives, which also means they are prolific. Unfortunately, the durability and flexibility that makes them so convenient for us also makes them difficult to degrade. The environment simply cannot break plastics down into usable organic pieces, so they choke ecosystems and poison the organisms that live there.
The new plastics economy focuses on an opportunity to design a system that captures the plastic materials’ benefits whilst reducing the negative environmental outcomes.
Today, most plastics are treated as disposable. Analysis indicates that only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling. And worse, the material value retention rate is a mere 5%. This means 95% of plastic packaging material value is lost each year… This translates into an annual value loss of $80-120 billion across global industry! The same reports indicates that on the current track there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050. That’s about 850-950 million tons!
Highlighting these undeniable system flaws provides a compelling case for an overall redesign of the plastic value chain. The New Plastic Economy report provides a blueprint for such a redesign, and offers pathways toward a circular future for plastics.
Stop plastic at the source and help fight this global issue. For the long-term: Stay aware of this report and it’s progress, and vote for officials who support this initiative. To do your part daily, say no to single use plastics such as straws, plastic cutlery, coffee cups, water bottles, plastic bags and take-out food containers. And start recycling!
“We make so many things that don’t require the longevity that plastic has – we don’t need a straw that we will use to sip one drink that will stay in the environment forever.”~Heidi Taylor
Understand Your Carbon Footprint
The first thing to understand is: What is your carbon footprint? A definition of carbon footprint is: the total amount of greenhouse gases (i.e., carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions. This includes all the emissions released by the transportation we use, as well as those associated with the production and transportation of any products we consume. The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons. This is one of the highest rates in the world, and nearly 4 times the global average. Use this tool to get a better idea of your carbon footprint and all that influences it.
Impacts Of Too Much Carbon
When carbon dioxide enters the ocean, it combines with seawater to produce carbonic acid. This increases the acidity of the water, resulting in ocean acidification. A consequence of the oceans becoming more acidic is the binding up of carbonate ions, which are used by marine creatures to make their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons. As the availability of carbonate ions decreases, it becomes more difficult for these animals to build their calcium carbonate structures. They are left weak, vulnerable, and likely to die.
Corals are also very susceptible to the impacts of ocean acidification. The loss of reefs are already being witnessed by the marine environment, local communities and all the way up through the global economy.
How can I reduce my carbon footprint?
Here are a few examples of things you can adjust in your life in order to make a positive impact on a regular basis.
eating mostly fruits, veggies, grains and beans
Livestock -all meat, eggs and dairy- is responsible for over 14% of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions. Every day that you forgo meat and dairy, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds. That’s almost 3000 lbs a year! Check out the team behind Meatless Mondays.
Use Cold Water
Use cold water as often as you can to do laundry. Change to a cold water detergent such as Tide – Cold Water Clean, which is specially designed to perform in low-temp water. Doing two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. It goes without saying to simply turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. And keep those showers short please.
Basically, just buy less stuff. You can make a difference if you limit your shopping and buy used or recycled items whenever possible. Otherwise, try to support and buy from companies that are environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Use Less Electricity
LEDs use a quarter of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use. Check out appliances that are Energy Star certified to be more efficient and less wasteful. Additionally, turn your water heater down to 120˚F. This can save an additional 550 pounds of CO2 a year!
An average car produces about five tons of CO2 each year. Making changes in how you get around can significantly cut your carbon footprint. Trains, the metro or even carpooling, can reduce greenhouse gas per person per trip.
If you need to drive, look into getting a hybrid or electric vehicle. Did you know that retail buyers in a number of states can get some cost relief in the form of tax credits, rebates, or reduced vehicle taxes or registration fees for buying a qualified alternative-fuel or electric-drive vehicle? In California, for example, people who buy or lease a new electric car can get a $2,000 cash rebate. That’s in addition to the federal tax credit, and it reduces the out-of-pocket cost of the car by close to $10,000. Take a look at California’s clean vehicle rebate program. This is another useful site to learn more about the available electric vehicle tax cuts. See what offers your state has to help you save money while you help save the planet.
Reduce & Offset Air Travel
Air travel is probably responsible for the largest part of your carbon footprint. But I’ll admit: ask me to avoid flying and it would be quite a difficult promise. Luckily, there are ways I can pay back and “offset” the amount of carbon I have produced. This calculator helps me estimate the carbon emissions of my flights and the amount of money needed to offset them. For example, flying economy roundtrip from Los Angeles to Beirut, Lebanon produces 4 tons of CO2; it costs $125 to offset this carbon. I encourage you to try this next time you travel.
Protect The Oceans And Sealife, And Fight Seafood Fraud
Seafood fraud threatens public health and safety, cheats consumers and harms our oceans. It can even mask global human rights abuses by creating a market for illegally caught fish. We can all start by electing public officials that support good ocean policy and that help us protect marine life. Additionally, take time to sign community petitions aimed at protecting the planet, our oceans and its wildlife.
But don’t stop there! Many petitions have the contact information of groups and individuals who are looking for a pair of extra hands to come on board and be of more help. If you find yourself with free time during this pandemic, or otherwise are without a job or other commitments, then this might be a good initiative for you to consider.
Curb Your Appetite For Meat
We know that meat has huge environmental impacts. Animal agriculture is the practice of breeding animals for the production of food and other animal products such as leather, and for recreational purpose. Unfortunately, our obsession with meat has dire, if not the worst, impacts on our environment today.
Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change. If you’re a regular meat eater like me, try reducing your meat consumption to 50% and then inspire all the people around you to do the same. Even just cutting one 150g red meat meal a week can save approximately 195kg of CO2 emissions a year.
On top of this, the raising of livestock has huge consequences for water availability and quality. By reducing the amount of meat we eat, we can improve the cleanliness of water, and make it more accessible to more people and the natural environment.
Our Earth, it’s oceans and all the land, as well as all the life that fill these biomes, are influenced by the actions of man. The bounties of this planet are here for us to use and to celebrate, but not to abuse. If we misuse the resources given to us, they will be gone before we know it.
Understand that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are many other impacts that we have on the environment. But there are many things we can do to turn things around and protect it, too! Every little bit helps. I’m going to do my part and I hope you join me.
“The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.”~Ernest Hemingway
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