Welcome to 2019! If you’re looking for ways to be kinder to our Earth in the year ahead, we’ve got a few ideas.
2. Bring reusables
It isn’t always easy to remember to bring reusable a cup every time we go to the coffee shop, but it makes a difference every time to you do. Keep reusable shopping bags in your purse or backpack. All those times we make a choice to skip a single-use plastic bag, straw, or plastic water bottle eventually adds up to a big reduction in the amount of waste we produce unnecessarily.
3. Reduce energy use
The energy we use to heat, cool and power our homes is one of the biggest contributors to our individual carbon footprints. When possible, look for options to choose green energy sources. Lots of utility companies offer choices to support green energy credits from sources like wind or solar. We can also cut down on power use by switching to LED bulbs.
4. Choose green transportation
Transportation is another huge contributor to our individual greenhouse gas emissions. Depending where we live and our day-to-day needs, it might be tough to avoid driving every day. But there might still be ways to cut down by carpooling or occasionally taking public transit. Those who live close enough to work switch to biking or walking, even just some of the time. And for those who can’t avoid driving daily, considering a more fuel-efficient or electric vehicle can also make an impact. Every bit helps!
5. Go local
Choosing locally produced foods and other products when possible can also help reduce our carbon footprints. Supporting local farmers and makers also benefits the local economy - and often tastes better too since it hasn’t been processed and shipped from far-away factories.
These are just a few ideas for a greener 2019, but of course there are many other ways to make a difference. What eco-friendly steps are you planning to take this year?
Plastic is everywhere
We have a global plastic addiction and the numbers are staggering. For example, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide.
Like these bottles, about half the plastics we consume are meant to be used just once .
As we talked about last month, there are positive developments in recycling plastic waste into all kinds of different products, including clothing and shoes.
But recycling doesn’t even come close to solving our plastic problem. Less than 10% of plastic we use actually gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, or worse, in our environment: rivers, lakes and oceans. According to the UN, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste goes into the world’s oceans each year – the equivalent of a dump truck emptying into the ocean each minute.
What’s more, much of this waste breaks down in the environment, creating “microplastics” (tiny bits of plastic less than 5 mm in size). Scientists are finding these tiny pieces—sometimes microscopic—are getting into, well, absolutely everything—water, marine life, even the air. That’s right, we’re likely eating, drinking, and even breathing tiny plastic particles.
Of course, the implications for both environmental and human health are devastating. Marine life is especially impacted, often mistaking plastic objects in the ocean for food.
So what can we do?
As consumers, there’s a lot we can do to reduce our single-use plastic consumption. Check out the infographic from UN Environment's #CleanSeas campaign at the top of this post.
Every bit counts
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the planet. Addressing it is going to require concerted efforts by corporations and governments worldwide to implement new approaches to dramatically reduce reliance on single-use plastic and improve management and recycling. But, by making even small changes in our daily lives, we can all make a difference.