According to the latest report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), 9 out of 10 people breathe air that is contaminated by pollutants. Moreover, around 7 million people in the world die every year due to outdoor and household air pollution. The report also mentions that air pollution is the biggest factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Around 24% of adult die from heart disease, 25% from stroke and 29% from lung cancer.
Apart from health concerns, environmental degradation is also causing global warming and hence result in increasing temperatures and severe weather events. Research predicts that global temperatures are expected to increase between 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the year 2100.
Today, many countries are suffering from endemic pollution. Environmental degradation also comes with an economic cost. Around 4 to 5 percent of a country’s GDP is lost to pollution, and unfortunately, the burden falls on the poor. This is because 94 percent of deaths occur in the lower and middle-income classes.
It is high time for the world to take notice and bring about a change in the environment before it is too late. Countries are doing what they can to bring about a change. We as individuals should also take some actions to rectify and prevent any damage. The following are some steps that you can take to create a better environment by going green.
1. Fight deforestation
2017 was a horrible year for tropical tree losses. Around 15.8 million hectares of tree cover loss occurred in the tropics. With this amount of deforestation, the least we can do as individuals, is to plant trees. The trees will not only provide oxygen, but they are our biggest weapons against global warming. This is because they can absorb the extra carbon dioxide in the environment.
Also, trees have the potential to reduce energy costs. According to research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest, urban/community forests save around $7.8 billion annually with reduced energy costs.
2. Avoid plastics
In 1992, a container with 28,000 plastic ducks fell into the sea somewhere; the plastic ducks still wash on the shore. A horrific statistic shows that around 18 billion pounds of plastic wastes are thrown into the oceans every year. Only less than a fifth of all the plastic is recycled globally. Most of the water bottles, straws, and plastic bags are only used once and then thrown away.
Plastics are one of the biggest threats to the environment because they do not biodegrade and release toxic chemicals into the environment. There is around 270,000 tons of plastic floating around in the ocean, threatening 700 marine species.
So, if you want to save the environment, then start reducing your use of plastics. Take a cloth bag with you whenever you go for grocery shopping. Always keep a water bottle to avoid buying water repeatedly. These small measures taken by each individual will considerably reduce plastic usage.
3. Switch to renewable energy
Electricity generated from fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal has a great impact on the environment. When burned, fossil fuels release toxic gases in the environment such as Carbon dioxide and Sulphur dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and biggest contributor to global warming. Sulphur dioxide, on the other hand, causes acid rain which is detrimental for everyone. It causes respiratory problems and heart diseases.
Hence, it is better to switch to renewable energy. While a complete switch to renewable energy on a large scale has not happened yet, every household can try to make a shift. Perhaps the easiest way is to install solar panels. This will not only cut down electricity production, but will also reduce your electricity bill. Solar panel installation doesn’t involve a lot of hassle these days. Solar panels costs have gone down by 73 percent since 2010, and they are expected to reduce down to half by 2020. Moreover, companies are now using solar sales software and apps such as app scoop, which has made the installation process seamless.
Landfills are one of the biggest contributors to soil pollution. In 2016, around 2 billion tons of solid waste was generated globally. This figure is expected to increase to 3.04 billion tons by 2050. Hence, we should look for ways to recycle as much as we can. Energy saved from a recycled bottle can power a 100-Watt light bulb for four hours. It also creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution as compared to producing a new bottle. Moreover, according to a study, if everyone in America recycled an aluminum can, then it would be quite beneficial for the environment. It is equivalent to taking off around 6750 passenger cars off the road.
Thus the importance of recycling cannot be undermined. Recycling at home is not a difficult task. You can start with simple steps such as papers and cans. Also, buy things that can be recycled and that are made of recyclable material. If you cannot reuse yourself, then make sure that you put the materials in the correct recycling bin. Remember to check the recycling symbol on the products. Be careful with batteries, once they start to decompose poisonous chemicals start leaking out of them. Hence, just don’t throw them out. Instead, take them to a recycling site and put them in the appropriate bin.
With increased urbanization, the environment is degrading at a faster rate than ever. Environmental degradation and global warming may not seem an immediate threat, but it is real. If we don’t take action now, it will be too late. If everyone takes these simple steps then collectively we can make a huge impact in bringing about a positive change in the environment. We definitely don’t want our future generations to suffer the brunt of our wrong doings.
Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs.
You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524