How the way we consume is changing for the better
To create a more sustainable world for future generations, there are countless changes that need to be made. This article will focus on two lifestyle changes we can do to make a difference now. The first half will concentrate on single use plastics, the second we’ll look into car usage and single person journeys. Read on below to see what you can be doing right now.
The single use plastics that make their way into the environment most frequently are:
- cigarette butts
- plastic drinking bottles
- plastic bottle caps
- food wrappers
- plastic grocery bags
- plastic lids
- straws and stirrers
- other types of plastic bags
- foam take-away containers
Why are single use plastics bad for the environment?
Plastics do not biodegrade. Instead of breaking down organically, plastic breaks down into tiny pieces of plastic called microplastics. These can infiltrate the food chain and become toxic to animals in large amounts.
The plastic from a styrofoam container or disposable bag can take thousands of years to decompose. Whilst it’s doing this, the chemicals are polluting soil and water, as well as entering into the food chain. The toxins from a styrofoam product, for example, if ingested can damage the nervous system, lungs and reproductive organs. Plastic straws can become lodged in sea life, bags can be ingested by accident and cause animals to choke or starve.
How can we end their use?
When evaluating the bigger picture, the plastic catastrophe can be daunting, but there are options that can help solve the problem. Here are some solutions:
- Replace plastic bags with cloth or reusable bags
- Use your own coffee mugs don’t purchase from vendors without sustainable non-plastic alternatives.
- Don’t use non-recyclable plastic bottles and straws
- Support efforts to cut our plastic dependencies, for example plastic bans and paying for disposable bags.
- Recycle everything you can, encourage establishments to do so as well
- Buying bulk items can reduce on packaging
- Use reusable take away containers
- Support vendors that have recyclable takeout alternative
The above ideas are just a start, we can all do our bit to make sure the environment is not irreversibly damaged by plastic we are pumping into it. Zero waste movements are becoming larger and more popular all over the world, consider looking into any that are in your area to see what else you can do to help. You could also consider switching from single use plastics to more sustainable alternative options.
Our Use and Ownership of Cars is Unsustainable
The world’s population is growing constantly. From this increase in population will come more and more drivers. Understandably, there has been growing concern over the number of drivers who will be on the road in the future and the environmental impact these extra vehicles will have. There have been particular technologies that get a lot of media attention as the one stop cure for this issue, in particular electric cars.
As well as emerging technologies that will combat climate change, drivers can make a difference by being more environmentally conscious. These actions won’t require a drastic overhaul of a person’s day-to-day but all subtly add up. For example, a driving test requiring people to understand what oil their engine needs to run optimally or what tyre pressure will reduce their vehicle’s fuel consumption.
The above strategies don’t address that there will be more people looking to drive more cars in the future. If our approach does not change, this means a future with more cars parked on streets blocking roads and more traffic when in transit. One of the major problems is that one person owns one vehicle and one person uses the car as a mode of transport. This is particularly prevalent in major cities such as London.
As a counter to this problem, there are companies who disrupt the concept of singular vehicle ownership. Essentially, a vehicle can be accessed and used by multiple people within a community. People effectively rent a car from a neighbour on their street when they need it, cutting down on the amount of cars parked on the pavement and driving on the road. Models like this are springing up all over the world, an example being London based Hiyacar, where you can rent a vehicle from a neighbour in the community.
It’s important we understand what dangers our lifestyle creates for the environment and future generations. Single use plastic and our car usage are realistic changes we can all make that will have a big impact. Don’t stop with the above information, read, talk to people, and work out what else you do to improve the way we consume to become more sustainable.