Today marks the 40th World Environment Day (WED), the global initiative by United Nations (UN) to stimulate environmental awareness among people, politicians and corporate leaders worldwide to take action. Take a few minutes to read this article today and see how hard the UN is working to make the planet a better place for you.
For 2012, the WED theme – Green Economy: Does It Include You? – calls for everyone to include themselves by implementing sustainable approaches into daily decisions.
UN describes Green Economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.”
So… Green Economy: Does It Include You? Environmental impact aside, Green Economy will create millions of “green jobs”, reducing the burden on the economy and give consumers – you – the purchasing power to sustain lives through supporting industries. How’s that for a solution?
Thanks to UN, 10 sectors have been established under Green Economy to help you identify your role and solution in making Green Economy the future, and your future a beautiful place to be!
Fact: Step inside any common city or town and you’ll be welcomed by the noise, dust and sight of on-going constructions. These developments take a large toll on global resources and the climate, but so can your readily built home or building.
Solution: Organize or request for an energy audit to recognize how to reduce your building’s climate footprint and save a lot of money in energy costs along the way! If you’re looking to renovate your home or garden, look for firms that operate low-impact construction.
Fact: “Food has to come from somewhere…” should be a daily reminder for all of us, especially seafood. Overfishing is seriously threatening future fish stocks. Sustainable fishing practices need to be applied worldwide now – it may not be just Cod facing near extinction, other fish you regular consume could also be swimming in that direction.
Solution: Be conscious of where you source your seafood from by doing some research and buy products that have been harvested sustainably. A growing demand for sustainably harvested seafood will encourage producers to adopt greener approaches (and this goes for fish oil supplements too).
Fact: Forests support livelihoods, climate, wildlife and ecosystems but deforestation cuts down 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of the World’s forests annually. Having more sustainably managed forests is extremely important to continue supporting our survival.
Solution: Reduce paper usage by opting for electronic documents instead of printing unnecessarily. Use products that come from sustainable forests and where possible swap paper towels for material dishcloths. Paper may eventually cost more to source and produce – so imagine having to pay triple the price for your toilet roll.
Fact: On top of vehicle manufacturing, road, air and marine pollution (and congestion) harm the environment for both wild ecosystems and humans.
Solution: Practice carpooling and make use of public transportation. This will reduce environmental impacts and economic costs. Walking or riding a bike for short trips is also good for your health as well as “hybrid” car choices! It may seem like a bit of effort to co-ordinate at the beginning but habit will kick-in and make it a breeze to be eco-mobile.
Fact: Almost 900 million people lack access to clean water and 3.41 million die every year water-related causes, a dire situation for the growth of human population.
Solution: Even the smallest of steps will lead to greater change: turning off the tap and shower when you’re not using it, using the washer only when you have a big load of laundry and no excess lawn watering. Being careful about your usage of this precious resource will help to conserve it for other important uses – life.
Fact: Sustainable agriculture is the only way we can continue to feed ourselves if an estimated 2.4 billion people will be added to the human population by 2050. Unsustainable farms contribute to pollution of water and the atmosphere, not to mention the treatment of farmed animals.
Solution: Be a responsible consumer and buy from suppliers that support local, organic and sustainable agriculture. Reduce your demand for imported ingredients – be global-friendly by being local-friendly. Or even better – find ways to grow your own greens in a Windowfarm. Also consider the immunity benefit of having food locally produced such as honey.
7. Energy Supply
Fact: Are modern day lifestyles sucking up more energy than resources can provide? Common energy resources like oil, coal and gas are causing harm to our health and environment and are not sustainable.
Solution: Buy from, invest in and work with businesses or brands that support clean, renewable energy, such as solar energy. Improve your personal energy efficiency – turn off lights, unplug appliances when not in use (this includes phone and laptop chargers), and turn off air-cons and heating systems when you leave the house – your ghosts don’t need a temperate house…
Fact: The world’s most famous hobby can leave negative environmental and social impacts. More visitors mean more congestion, and more usage of energy, transportation as well as consumerism.
Solution: With the growing amount of visitors to these travel destinations, the same principles at home should also be applied – buy local, travel with others and use public transportation. Stay at eco-friendly hotels, don’t leave everything on as you leave your hotel room, and choose to not have your towel and linen changed daily. Of course tourism also generates and boosts economies which is good for the growth of a country but we can still be conscious travellers – right?
Fact: Once disposed, where does it disappear to? It doesn’t. In the USA, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s! By throwing away recyclable materials, we are contributing to methane emissions from landfills and taking up the little space that’s left to store our garbage.
Solution: Recycle. We hear this all the time because there’s truth to it. Recycling and composting food waste reduce the impact of landfills as well as the demand to produce even more materials. Why not start carrying a reusable coffee cup (may coffee outlets even rewards those who do), keep a shopping bag to hand and get busy with a compost heap.
10. Manufacturing and Industry
Fact: These industries may drive employment and economic growth in many countries, but as the UN puts it – “is it worth it to employ someone to pollute?” According to 2nd Green Revolution, industry waste is responsible for 4 million pounds of material disposal in order to provide the needs of an average American family per year. That’s equivalent to 20,000 male adults or 800,000 gallon-tubs of ice cream.
Solution: Be a wise consumer and find out which businesses in your area practice sustainability and invest in renewable energy. More consumer demand for green economic values means more companies implementing them and raising the industry bar.
Are you included in Green Economy? Tell us how you have contributed to support environmental sustainability in your life.