When people think going eco what usually comes to mind is turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, reducing your plastic usage and recycling your tin cans. While all these are great habits to help our planet they are merely a drop in the ocean. It makes sense to think logically about the problem. If you want to have a potivite impact on the planet then you focus on reducing the habits that are the most damaging.
But can you name what the 4 biggest human-caused environmental damages are?
#1 Have 1 less child
Every child on the planet has a lifetime of carbon footprint, resources and waste contribution ahead of them. So it makes sense that adding 1 less human into the mix would make the biggest impact. This diagram from the Gaurdian demonstrates just how much of an impact this has compared to other environmentally damaging actions:
I don’t believe in denying the basic human right ti have children….plus if you are the type of person to consider not having a child because of environmental reasons, you are probably exactly the type of person we NEED to have kids….because statistically your kids are going to be the next generation of eco-warriors!
But there’s a different way of looking at these. A child’s environmental impact changes greatly depending on their lifestyle and how they are raised. If you instils good eco values (buying second hand, not consuming so much ‘stuff’, getting around on bike and foot) then this will stay with them in the long run.
It is also a fact that education and better quality of life lead to people having fewer children (ie, an educated girl is likely to have much fewer children then an uneducated girl). I support a school in a very deprived area in Tanzania. By helping the children – especially girls – in through education I hope they grow up to be happier and healthier and have smaller families which will then reduces the strain on local resources (although they are not the biggest offenders of environmental damage, they live in areas that is most affected by climate change and where overpopulation causes a real strain).
International development and environmental issues are all intertwined.
If overpopulation and the environment is something that you think about on a personal level, I talk honestly about the internal conflict I have about having a family as a conservationist.
#2 Fly less
Flying is terrible for the planet, there’s no way around it.
If you can avoid taking a plane then do it – look at ferries, trains busses as alternatives. Flights are getting cheaper (which is ridiculous….we should be paying a premium for this planet damaging luxury!) so we need to become conscious buyers and not just going for the cheapest option.
#3 Ditch the car
Everyone has a car nowadays, but do you really need one? I survived without a car for 10 years and it really wasn’t so bad. It kept me fit as I walk and cycle places that are reachable. And more efficient as I can use bus and train travel to work. If I really needed to get somewhere awkward then I just hire a car for the day or grab a taxi. It also saved me a small fortune!
Now I do have a car but because I spent so long without one I never take it for granted and I question every journey I take to make sure it’s essential.
If you must keep your car then switching to a more efficient vehicle is a must…..go electric or hybrid!
#4 Eat a plant-based diet
I am so passionate about encouraging more people to reduce their meat/dairy intake to adopt a more vegan diet…..or a flexitarian diet meaning you reduce but don’t need to cut out entirely. It’s a good first step!
It baffles me that people still contribute to the industrial farming industry which really is quite disgusting and barbaric with its practices (although I know a lot of it is lack of education/knowledge). And I’m not just talking about ethics and mistreatment of animals….I’m talking an industry that is responsible for the deforestation of most of our natural spaces and that exploits our poorest people living in developing countries. Such as exporting seeds from countries that are in famine so that we can continue to feed our cattle….!!!
Every time you choose to skip eating meat or dairy you are having a positive impact on the planet. I love that 5 times a day when I open my fridge door to make a meal choice I’m able to feel good that I’m doing my bit to be a little bit more green.
Going plant-based isn’t the only way your food choices can help the planet. Sourcing out local food and buying seasonal veg means fewer air miles in the process of the food reaching your plate.
Know where to put your energies
I’m a big believer in aiming for better, not perfect. So while I don’t want to discourage people to reduce their water usage and say no to straws, I think that if you really want to make a difference you’ve got to look at it logically and accept the facts.
Will you be committing to make any changes?
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