Impactful Actions for a Healthier Planet
Our connection with nature is just like any other relationship: investing our care and energy strengthens the bond. The stronger the relationship, the more likely we are to make choices that serve the health of the planet. One small action, like finding a reusable product instead of a single-use one, can help further our connection with nature. It’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop.
Our current consumption patterns are unsustainable. If we continue current consumption patterns, by 2050 we would need nearly three planet Earths to sustain us.
68% of waste ends up in landfills or open dumps. Landfills emit gases that worsen climate change and can result in asthma and other health problems, while open dumps, which are unregulated and are prone to fires and explosions, produce toxic gases and can contaminate soil, waterways, and groundwater. The global effort to reach zero waste operations hopes to reverse this.
Ecosystem restoration involves intentionally regenerating previously degraded ecosystems to reverse human impact, promoting biodiversity, and preventing further destruction. Restoration aims to return the ecosystem to its original state or as close as possible.
Ask yourself: Where does your food come from? How far does it have to travel? What impact do your beauty products have on the environment, both when they’re made and when they’re disposed of? Who makes your products? What is done with our trash when carted away from our homes?
Responsible consumption is the process by which people intentionally purchase food, goods, and services to limit their environmental impact, support healthy practices, and ensure resource sustainability and biodiversity for future generations. People can often rely on their local resources to obtain some of their favorite products, rather than going online and further contributing to carbon footprints of transportation companies. Along with shopping locally, people can be mindful of the lifecycle of their products and purchases.
Some examples include reducing consumption of anything that uses nonrenewable resources, ensuring new products and services that we purchase are responsibly produced, and reusing products for as long as possible.
- Founded in 1998, GVI has expanded its programs across 21 locations in over 13 countries. The organization builds a global network of people to make a significant difference towards sustainability and environmentally friendly habits. One of GVI’s goals is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns to eliminate and reduce as much food waste as possible. The 10-year framework of programs is being implemented around the world with the aim to
achieve the goal of reducing food waste and harvest losses by at least 50% by 2030.
- Chinese consumers, regardless of age, region or education level, increasingly favor green and
responsible products. Energy-saving home appliances, water-saving toilets, recycled stationery,
organic food, and others are seeing an increase in demand and integration.
- The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a global nonprofit alliance for the consumer goods industry. SAC developed the Higg Index, which uses tools to measure environmental and social labor impacts across the value chain. The Coalition has members, including Tommy Hilfiger, H&M and others, who are adapting their fashion practices towards responsible consumption.
Zero waste is a goal that aims to eliminate the creation of societal waste while conserving natural resources. The Zero Waste to Landfill philosophy is meant to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. The core actions that support zero waste are to refuse what you do not need. Reduce what you can't refuse. Reuse instead of tossing. Recycle anything that can't be reused, or refused. Rot what is compostable.
The objective is to keep resources in use for as long as possible, derive the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. This minimizes the use of new resources as well as waste.
- So, you’re doing some online shopping. You find a few things you like, put them in your cart, and off they go to arrive at your home! Now, you receive the box, open it, and find that the majority of the box was just plastic pillows surrounding a smaller box. What do you do with the packaging? Companies like Green Ocean Group have created a dissolvable, compostable packaging that can solve these concerns. The packaging primarily consists of polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), which is a synthetic polymer free of heavy toxic metals. Best part? The material completely dissolves when put into boiling water.
- A true circular economy is possible. Kamikatsu, a remote village on the Japanese island of Shikoku, has dedicated the last two decades to reusing, recycling, and reducing everything. Waste is not yet banished altogether, but it is very close. Household items must be separated into no fewer than 45 categories, where the containers are then transported to a collection center to go through the correct recycling or disposal process. In 2003, the town became the first in Japan to pass a zero-waste declaration.
- Landfills across the world are exploding with plastic waste. It’s a problem that increases exponentially with each passing day. To combat this issue, scientists are diving into biodepolymerization research to develop an enzyme-based process to break down common plastics. Worms and microorganisms are being used to effectively break down several kinds of plastic. With continued research, scientists are hopeful that these organisms can be an answer to much of our plastic waste problems.
Ecosystems are failing and disappearing faster than we ever imagined. Human influence is a major reason. As societies grow, the impact of climate change, our waste management practices, and our needs to expand our own living spaces are all impacting the environments and ecosystems around us. Forests are being demolished, reefs are dying, animals are going extinct. The disappearance of plants and animals has a long–lasting ripple effect that harms us in the long run. We lose out on valuable food resources and our living environments require more intervention to be habitable.
Ecosystem restoration involves intentionally regenerating previously degraded ecosystems to reverse human impact, promoting biodiversity and preventing further destruction. Restoration aims to return the ecosystem to its original state or as close as possible.
Ecosystem restoration provides many benefits to plants, animals, and people by helping to protect and rehabilitate our farmlands, wetlands, and coastal habitats.
- It’s no secret that deforestation and degradation of the Amazon rainforest has a massive ripple effect on the planet. Conservation groups, however, are responding by establishing national parks and biological reserves. Scientists are also attempting to document disturbances and solutions. One of the methods is via seed dispersal. The method is conducted by identifying packets of land and planting seeds strategically. Since implementing this practice, parts of the rainforest are gradually returning and thriving.
- The Peruvian Amazon is in desperate need of restoration. Land degradation, illegal mining, single-crop plantations, and irresponsible farming practices have severely impacted the ecosystem. Initiative 20x20 is looking to change this and bring the forest back to its former glory. The initiative is a country-led effort aimed at changing land usage habits in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, 8.2 million hectares of degraded land are under restoration and 14.6 million hectares are new conservation areas.
- Chernobyl happened 40 years ago. Many still think of the area as a desolate wasteland. However, surprisingly, Chernobyl paved the wave for abundant wildlife to thrive. Since the area has been closed off from humans for several decades, lynx, bison, deer, and other animals are free to roam through thick forests. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) is now the third-largest nature reserve in mainland Europe.
- The global bee population is declining drastically, and the impact to the world is very evident. The biggest impact to bees is developing cities and infrastructure. We pave over flowers, trees, and plants that are homes and food for the bees. A new planning law in the city of Brighton and Hove, England is aiming to at least provide homes for bees. Bee bricks, manufactured by Green&Blue, are standard-sized bricks with several different size holes which will be homes for solitary bees to rest. Using these bricks, solitary bees will be able to continue contributing to local biodiversity and restoring ecosystems.
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