Our environmental impacts are under the microscope.
Leave a light on, fossil fuels get burned, o-zone shrivels, planet warms up.
Drive to work, clog the air with emissions.
Print a report, an essay, a CV, you’re basically exhuming a tree corpse.
What you come to learn in one’s mission as an ambassador for the earth is that the fight is uphill, and you’re always losing.
No matter how much metal, paper, cardboard, plastic gets recycled, it’s probably not enough? Mainly because, for example, two-thirds of UK plastic isn’t recycled, it’s sent to landfill to linger and sit. Or choke a seagull.
If it’s not a carbon footprint – your contribution of fossil fuels through electricity and fuel usage – then it’s a plastic footprint or a forest footprint. There’s a lot to consider when you want to minimize your impact on the planet because, ironically, this is the best and, often, the only way we can go about our lives.
We live in a plastic world. An electric world. A well-oiled world of vehicles. What’s the point of trying to fight it when our cars spit fumes, our shopping bags eventually suffocate baby turtles, and charging a phone releases a tiny cloud of poison into the air? You might have brought some ‘bags for life’ but 50% of your groceries are wrapped in layers of non-recyclable materials destined for the landfill.
I’ve always been one for the environment, I was taught at a young age about the importance of recycling (which fits in nicely with my need to put things in different boxes, categories and, in this case, bins.) I’d watch the lone polar bear on her shrinking icy platform and turn off every switch I could. But as I get older and more environmentally aware, it becomes more clear that there’s only so much the everyday ‘consumer’ can do.
An American study shows that something as simple as having beef in your diet is contributing to one of the biggest, most varied environmental problems ever. You can read the article here, but livestock affects deforestation, methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and even human issues like cancers and superbugs. It also mentions that simply cutting down on beef has a profound effect if you don’t want to cut it out entirely, but avoiding eating a particular type of meat is pretty easy compared to some of the more obscure things that heat up our planet.
While traffic calming measures reduce vehicle speeds on neighbourhood streets and may contribute to enhanced road safety, these measures can result in significantly higher fuel consumption and emission rates when drivers accelerate aggressively. We also found that newly installed speed lumps could be responsible for extra fuel consumption. – Transport Research, Virginia Tech, 2009.
I’m not on any recruitment mission to convince the public with some enlightened vision of the world, everything I’ve learned is public information that everyone has access to online and if you don’t know about climate change, global warming or the impacts of material use, then you either don’t use the internet or you’re just unaware – blissfully so I’d assume considering how much this knowledge pains me.
But if you’re just learning about the harm that every day things have on the planet and its inhabitants and want to do something about it, I’d say absolutely go for it because if everyone had that mindset then some real change could be seen, but just know that it’s not the most rewarding mission. It’ll pain you to see most of the plastic that you will inevitably use go unrecycled, and you’ll probably see clouds of smoke in your head every time you turn on a light, but until the changes come on a governmental, global scale, there’s only so much you can do.
And that’s just the sad truth. I’m sure the dead whale forgives us.