WARNING - The next few paragraphs are doom and gloom but stay with me it's a few paragraphs, it gets better.
With climate change a real serious issue, with the increasing impacts, shown on a daily basis, it’s now more important than ever, for us to play a part to reduce this devastation to our land.
Here we go, the doom - no matter what we do as a human we are going to cause harm, we've been doing this for thousands of years, it's about reducing that harm so the planet has time to repair & replenish.
Let's get the gloom out of the way. - accommodating population growth has been a root cause for much of the impact we’ve had on our environment. The demand to feed human population has advanced agriculture. The rapid expansion of cattle populations to meet human dietary demands has contributed substantially to changes in the composition of gases within the atmosphere. 18 million acres of trees are cut every year to create space for development & used in wood products. Deforestation decreases oxygen levels & increases greenhouse gases. Our activity affects the environment by contributing to air pollution, with the emission of harmful substances into the air. Pollution isn’t just limited to the air. It affects soil & waterways & comes from human waste, industrial chemicals and other toxins. These toxins lead to environmental degradation, acid rain & harmful algal blooms in the ocean. CO2 emissions contribute to the deterioration of the earth’s ozone layer, which in turn, contribute to global climate change, this is combined with the loss of the carbon-sink effect of forest lands (due to deforestation).
HOWEVER, we have the power to change & change our environment for the better.
Are you still with me? And breathe.....
The reasons above are just some of the reasons why we should all start to live a more sustainable lifestyle, for us & our future generations, our children, our grandchildren & great-grandchildren. The internet is jam-packed with blogs & websites on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle - I've spent the past three years, hours upon hours reading & researching on how to change, the impact, the destruction, the cruelty & at times found it quite overwhelming. I'm here at 4am writing this blog another night of sleeplessness confusion & concern. The daily focus has been, on what I'm doing wrong rather than the changes I continually & gradually make. The word 'gradually' is the key, - the sleepless night positive & a start.
We are all on different paths of life, we maybe similar in certain ways but Sustainability, a sustainable lifestyle looks different for everyone & it's the small changes each individual makes which will have an impact - so don't punish yourself as I have been doing, for what you aren't doing, celebrate on what you are achieving & build on that achievement.
A sustainable lifestyle is reducing our environmental impact, in ways that are sustainable both for the Earth & for the person & there are so many small ways we can change to live sustainably. How many of us now have energy efficient light bulbs? To purchase these light bulbs are at a greater expense but we see the amount of energy reduced and the reduction of our bills - it's tangible it works. It's more of these light bulb moments which together (& on our own path), will make a difference, so let's look at a few.
Reducing Food Waste.
It's estimated 40% of our food, goes in the bin. This amounts to £7.5 billion pounds worth of food waste. This 'usually' ends up in landfill sites, which over time degrades into the greenhouse gas, methane. For more detailed information read this https://bit.ly/2EgeUjG . I've been terrible at wasting food & now an area with real focus. This is where shopping local comes to our advantage, yes it is more expensive but with the waste reduction of buying only what you need, it not only cuts down on waste but supports local small independent businesses & will save money in the long term. We all have different paths, my 3 sons are grown (two still living at home) & dynamics changed. The demands of a busy lifestyle, long working hours & young children to raise - puts pressure on our precious time. Committing to one day a week purchasing for a local supplier for that one meal cooking from scratch will have such a positive impact. Imagine everyone in the country doing this on the same day of the week - showing our meals on social media, the disasters, the creations, the blogs, the possible fun of making it together, a small part of uniting for a sustainable lifestyle with a positive impact. Purchasing, fruit & veg locally also reduces the plastic waste which is wrapped around cucumbers & majority of Vegetables sold in supermarkets - have a go at buying everything plastic free in a supermarket, I tried it once and came back with a Tin of Beans & a Jacket Potato, it really is awful! There's something wholesome about purchasing locally in brown paper bags & buying grain and placing in your own containers!
Every year, we throw away enough plastic to circle the world 5 times. Most UK households throw away at least 40kg of plastic each year. Enough to make 10 recycle bins. Nationwide, we use 7.7 billion plastic bottles each year. We've seen the impact on the seas & the hard work GreenPeace & many smaller charities such as Surfers against Sewage do to clean up the oceans & the land. It starts with us. What can you do, how can you reduce the plastic waste? Purchase an aluminium water bottle to reuse? Did you know that if you recycle a single aluminium can, it powers a TV for up to 3 hours? Slight plug of iindi.be - this is just one reason I use aluminium bottles rather than plastic, it's around x5 more expensive and the Teslin Biodegradable label is extortionate too, so it's not for fashion or making a statement, these are expensive BUT a much much much less negative impact than plastic and plastic labels. Aluminium is recyclable infinitely - how wonderful is that AND the carbon footprint is fantastic too - well it is when you consider all the variables such as weight, transportation, which has a negative impact.
Here is an exert from the international aluminium institute 'Comparison on mass basis, for a one-way glass bottle, the Carbon Footprint has been calculated as 0,94 kg CO2e per kg. For the aluminium can, considering 50 % recycling rate, the Carbon Footprint has been calculated as 8,96 kg CO2e per kg. It seems that the Carbon Footprint of the glass bottle is lower than the Carbon Footprint of the aluminium can. But the glass bottle is 25 times heavier than the aluminium can of the same volume. Consideration of the functional unit, as required by ISO 14044 standard, means that the Carbon Footprint of 1 kg aluminium cans has to be compared with the Carbon Footprint of 25 kg of glass bottles. Then the 8,96 kg CO2e for the aluminium cans must be compared with 23,5 kg CO2e for the glass bottle'.
iindi.be also balances slightly with 30% recyclable glass and biodegradable labels. When you compare, cosmetic products used in the bathroom, there is no question that using mass plastic packaging is by far cheaper than aluminium glass but the impact is quite significant. Again talking about each individual path into sustainability, are you able to change one product? A shampoo, a conditioner, a shower gel & one that contains a product that isn't harmful to the environment OR us?
One last note on reducing plastic containers for the alternative of aluminium - If we recycled 90% of all aluminium cans, we would need 14 million fewer dustbins! There's something therapeutic about putting your dustbin out which is almost empty. Well apart from the past few weeks - someone is putting rubbish in my bin, last week it had maggots everywhere, didn't half wind me up!
Increase Organic Purchases
I've searched several local supermarkets & local stores on the price of organic and calculated the average increase in price. I was slightly shocked to see the price increases on average by 50% to non organic food. Removing pesticides & fertilisers produces less pollution and much higher quality soil which is an absolute win for sustainability. Personally, I would be stretched to go completely organic - I'd love too but only at the 20% mark and aiming to increase. Are we able to purchase a couple of organic purchases weekly?
Eat a Plant Based Diet
Now, as a Vegan, my reasons for not eating meat are vast & emotive, so chosen to focusing on sustainability here & previously stated the impact at the beginning of the blog under gloom. Let's look positive. A study in the American Scientific report stated if everyone in the US reduced meat by a quarter it would free up 23 million acres of high-quality land, roughly the size of Indiana, which could be turned into forestland, which absorbs & stores carbon dioxide - WOW. Remember at the beginning -
'We are all on different paths of life, we maybe similar in certain ways but Sustainability, a sustainable lifestyle looks different for everyone & it's the small changes each individual makes which will have an impact'
Would you, could you reduce your intake by a 1/4?
Governments around the world are now engaged in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels to prevent the worst effects of climate change with The Paris Agreement. The aim is to 'strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius'. On an individual level, encouraging some of the lockdown behavioural changes we had could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, remember its the small changes each individual makes which will have an impact.
With so much doom & gloom regarding climate change, it's easy to ignore - the impact is beyond scale. Governments do have a big part to play in cleaning up & restoring our planet. We too can make a change. A sustainable lifestyle looks different for everyone & it's the small changes each individual makes which will have an impact'.
Let's make our own impact to our planet by increasing our sustainable lifestyle. xx