Caring about the environment has some real problems. What has it done for you lately: when did the environment actively go out its way to help you in your daily life? You’re not going to see the effects of your life choices so why care about future generations? You hear about environmentally sustainable initiatives all the time but never see any benefit from the actions you or anyone else is taking. The environment is like taxes, all you see is the take from the bottom line without a feeling of getting anything back in return.
But still, I think you might find this article useful. It might even begin to convince you that the small changes you could make would make a significant environmentally positive difference. Like taxes, your contribution has far reaching implications which benefit the wider society/globe as a whole. The cumulative efforts of a collective body are able to achieve an incredible amount in a tiny fraction of the time. Think of the small changes you could make as an environmental tax that ensures the future prosperity of the planet for your kids and theirs. Your small sacrifice, change of habit or thoughtfulness really can save the planet one act of kindness at a time.
Food waste is staggering and in my mind is the most senseless waste of resources worldwide, without question. Think about it, at a time when global malnourishment falls into the millions, globally 925m people are undernourished, food waste is morally repugnant. Whether the waste occurs in the supply chain, in the supermarket or at home each of us contributes to this problem every single day. On average each of us is responsible for 340g of waste per day, 2.5kg per week and 125kg a year. That equates to over 7billion tonnes of waste for the UK as a whole valuing £12 billion. £12 Billion. For an average family of 4, our waste is the equivalent of feeding another family member every single meal, every single day of the year.
Fortunately, there are solutions; 50% of all food waste occurs in the home which suggests to me the biggest change we can make which would make the biggest difference is to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, food waste in the home. One company, OLIO, has made it their mission to do just that. Ever felt bad about throwing away an unopened packet of pasta, bought a month’s supply of protein you couldn’t stand or helplessly watched as a ripe bunch of bananas went to waste? OLIO is for you. OLIO is a free app which connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses to exchange their edible surplus food. To access food, simply browse available items near you, request whatever takes your fancy and arrange a pick-up via private messaging. I truly believe that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively, one rescued carrot or cupcake at a time, we can build a more sustainable food future. Why wouldn’t you give the opportunity for a neighbour to have something you won’t eat? Food waste contributes to 1/3 of greenhouse gases worldwide. Surely the food is better nourishing someone else instead of going in your bin and detrimentally affecting the environment.
Car’s are a waste of space, literally. When you’re driving home look around you. Look around your own car and the cars around you. What you will notice is a common thread: space. Almost every car I encounter to and from work has 4 free seats with only one the drive present. If we could organise ourselves two to a car instead of one we would literally half traffic and emissions over night. That would have a monumental effect not just on travel time to work, conveniently lowered as a by-product of collaborative travel, but also results in a higher quality of air, lower pollution while lowering the number of traffic accidents that would occur.
The future of transport is already on the horizon. Electric, Single-seat and Autonomous vehicles will shape the future of how we get from A-to-B. The last two simultaneously lower traffic and emissions. Another potential development is free travel: advertisers paying for your journey in autonomous vehicles in return for the opportunity for targeted advertisement during your journey. The autonomous vehicle would have the capability to tap into your profile and feed relevant content to you while you are on the way to work. It would reduce emissions because the vehicle would optimise its route to work and act as a shuttle for multiple travellers lowering the number of cars on the road. Sound like a pipe dream? Uber are already exploring the possible viability of such a scheme.
As we march towards a global population of 8 billion water waste is problem that is inevitably only going to get worse. Water is one of the earth’s most valuable resources and one that is often taken for granted. Droughts and flashfloods are all inevitable consequences of a global temperature rise leading to more intense weather phenomenom. Factoring in these issues it will be increasingly important to ensure a volumes of waste water are managed and a supply chain for clean safe drinking water is identified, maintained and ensured during times of trouble.
Food waste and water waste are inexplicably linked. The water needed to nourish the food that is wasted globally each year would be enough to meet the domestic needs of 9 billion people! Think of the small changes in your life you could make which would save water and, in turn, the environment. Do you leave the tap on when you brush your teeth? Small changes accumulate to big change. It’s no longer acceptable to assume your single intervention won’t make a difference, it will. One litre saved is one litre closer to sustainability.
Protecting the environment and our prosperity as a race are not mutually exclusive. We depend on the earth far more than it requires us and to continue to pilfer it for its resources without serious consideration for the consequences is ignorance amounting to a complicit march towards catastrophe. You wouldn’t purposefully strip copper strands away from the cable feeding electricity to a life support machine of another person so why are we so willing to do so to our own life support system? Each of us has a choice to make in regards to every one of our decisions. By thinking of consequences and recognising opportunities to mitigate our impact we can make a real change to our lives and be remembered as the generation which changed things instead of continuing down the same road to ruin.