Posted on 1st June 2017 by Alex Heys
Monday 5th June marks World Environment Day. First held in 1974, World Environment Day is an important campaign devised by the United Nations. Its main aim is to raise awareness of a range of significant threats to the environment, from global warming to air pollution, encouraging people to take action to protect the planet. Canada is hosting this year’s World Environment Day, with the theme of connecting people to nature. To mark the occasion, Canada is offering free entry to its national parks and marine conservation areas. It has never been more important to protect the environment, and with this in mind, here are five ways that you too can take action:
One of the best ways to help reduce global warming, not to mention air pollution, is to swap your car for more environmentally friendly ways of transportation. Over half of the world’s transport emissions come from personal vehicles. It is therefore best to walk, or to hop on your bike for small trips. If your journey is longer than this, then why not get the train, tube or bus to work? A bus with as few as seven passengers is more fuel efficient than a car carrying one person. By doing this you will significantly reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the air. If you do need to use your car, consider swapping in your vehicle for a more environmentally-friendly model, such as an electric or hybrid car.
People often forget that their choice of groceries from their regular supermarket shop can have a significant impact on the environment. We often fail to consider where our shopping really comes from. Fruits such as avocados, oranges and lychees all travel a long way to get to our plates, so be mindful of the negative impact that transportation, processing and packaging has on the environment. Next time you’re in the supermarket, take a closer look at the labels to see where the food has come from. Why not switch to more locally grown products such as British strawberries and raspberries? An even more effective way to protect the environment through your shop is by cutting back on meat consumption. A recent study found that a global switch to diets that rely less on meat could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds.
It has been estimated that a widespread adoption of vegetarianism could cut emissions by two thirds
There are loads of non-recyclable products that we use daily that are severely damaging our environment. We use these products without thinking about where they eventually end up. Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to decompose, plastic bottles take at least 450 years to decompose, and even plastic straws take up to 200 years. It is absurd considering that the average ‘life span’ of a drinking straw in a cocktail bar is probably less than 30 minutes, and yet the damage done to the wider ecosystem is astronomical. Whilst the UK has started to wake up to the problem, by introducing measures such as the 5p plastic bag tax, consumers should be making more of an effort to cut down on plastic consumption in their daily routines. For instance, why not invest in a reusable takeaway coffee cup, or keep a sports water bottle in your bag?
Steps can be taken in your own home to be more environmentally friendly. Ensure that your lightbulbs are of the compact fluorescent variety, switch off appliances when not in use, and make sure to invest in Tupperware rather than freezer bags for frozen products. In this summer weather, get outside and create a compost heap to ensure that all biodegradable products are disposed of in a better way, whilst also providing nutrients to your flower beds. If you have the space, why not plant some trees, or buy some spider plants for your living room? Plants and trees improve air quality and are proven to reduce levels of air pollution.
It’s important to raise awareness of World Environment Day. Tell people about it! If you’re in the office take a look around and see what you can do to save energy and paper. If you are not doing so already, think twice before printing documents and urge your colleagues to do so too. The rise in laptops and tablets means that files can be shared and stored digitally, saving the planet in the process. If you need to print, make sure you are using refillable ink cartridges that cut down on waste.
These seemingly small steps will make all the difference in helping to protect the environment and better connect people to nature.