Our planet is entering our 6th mass extinction, and according to scientists overpopulation and over consumption is to blame. They also warn us that in order to resolve this crisis we have only a short window to act.
All the recent studies show that we have lost more than 50% of the vertebrate species in the last 50 years and that the insect mass is falling by 2,5% per year.
I am 54 years old, and I feel ashamed of myself and my generation for not taking action sooner, for having to be taught by this amazing upcoming and younger generation and especially by my daughter on how to look after our planet, for not seeing all the warning signs, and mostly for thinking that this does not apply to me…
I still remember when I was 10 years old watching the underwater documentaries from this famous French explorer. One of his quotes “ For most of history, man has had to fight nature in order to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. “ Jacques -Yves Cousteau
Almost 35 years ago he was already warning the world of the lack of fish and the increasing levels of pollution, in all the oceans of the world and particularly in the Mediterranean sea. Of course at that age I did not pay attention to these words.
10 years later I was working as a diving instructor diving those oceans all over the world and still I did nothing.
Matilda my daughter only 21 at the time, opened my eyes to the magnitude of this environmental catastrophe and taught me that all the little changes I can implement will make a difference in the long run. After becoming Vegan, she embarked on a step by step process to make her day to day more ecologically friendly and her aim is to achieve a zero waste lifestyle.
So if this resonates with you, carry on reading and let me share with you what I have learnt.
These changes are simple and easy, they require very little effort or financial investment and most importantly they contribute to reducing your personal greenhouse gas emissions.
What is the GreenHouse Effect?
The greenhouse gases such as water vapour, carbon dioxide CO2, Methane, Nitrous oxide and ozone have an influence over the energy balance of the earth. Without them the earth’s temperature would be unbearably cold around -18ºC, instead of a pleasant average of 15ºC. They let the sun’s heat through and trap a certain amount in the earth’s atmosphere. But in the last century the production of all these gases has increased and resulted in a rise in temperature and a more pronounced greenhouse effect.
What is Climate change?
As the earth’s temperature rises, it starts affecting our climate, our local weather, our food source and our health.
The polar ice caps and Greenland are rapidly melting, causing a rise in sea levels, flooding coastal regions and this could have long term consequences on the ocean’s currents circulation, like the gulf stream for example. Warmer temperatures and heat waves have a bigger impact on our global weather, which means more hurricanes, bigger storms, colder weather, extreme floods and longer droughts.
All our agriculture would be affected by this weather and many farming lands could not be used again.
Finally, it affects our health, especially in urban areas with increasing smog over our cities. This can cause asthma, cardiovascular and lung diseases.
What can we do to help?
Reduce your shopping;
1- Reduce Meat and dairy! Beef results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gas per 100g of protein while tofu produces less than 3-5kg. So avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way you can help the environment. Without meat and dairy consumption, the entire farmland use could be reduced 75%, and this would stop the current deforestation and mass extinction of wildlife. Furthermore the meat and dairy industry produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. So in this point in time “A vegan diet is probably the biggest contribution and impact you can have on planet earth”. I have considerably reduced my meat and dairy by 60%, and aiming to reduce it even more.
2- Buy less processed food! Avoid buying food that is packaged in plastic or processed food. Instead buy fresh fruit and greens, vegetables locally produced so their carbon footprint is low. Always bring your own reusable bags, glass jars, or water bottle.
3- Carry out you cups! We all seem to be obsessed with coffee, it must be the buzz we get from caffeine, whatever it is, carry your own cup to your preferred coffee shop.
4- Produce your own water at home! It’s worth investing in a reverse osmosis unit, it’s relatively inexpensive nowadays, and you will no longer buy bottled water therefore less plastic to dispose of.
5- Stop wasting food! Plan your meals, don’t throw leftovers, freeze food, eat less, reduce your daily portions. Start fasting or intermittent fasting, it’s economical, healthy, saves your time, and is good for the environment. I alternate between intermittent fasting ( at least 16 hours) and 24 hours fasting , 2 to 3 times a week. So find your own formula, the one that works best for you.
6- Buy less Clothing! This one is an easy one for me…I am not a fashion Guru and not interested in shopping so my carbon footprint related to shopping in very low already. Our excessive consumerism has become a huge problem for the environment. The “make do and mend “culture is back… So buy less and wear more, that’s the quickest action you can take, right now. Recycle or donate the clothes you no longer wear and/or buy vintage or recycled garments. In 2017, in the UK alone , 11000 charity shops saved 330000 metric tons of textiles ending up in a landfill .
7- Read the label! Avoid leather and although polyester requires less water and land than cotton but emit more greenhouse gases per kilogram; they also shed off micro fibers that increase the levels of plastics in our oceans. However synthetic polymers made from renewable crops like corn and sugarcane release up to 60% less carbon emission.
All these 7 points are easy to implement, and only involve you, your diet and your habits!!!
-Reduce CO2 emissions!
8- Drive less! If you already own a car, drive less, carpool, or car share, drive if absolutely necessary; walk more, cycle to your destination whenever possible. If you have to buy a car, consider Electric cars or hybrid. The production of some electric cars will have initially a higher carbon footprint than others but they do make up for it in three years.
–Buy second hand! When you consider that the average usage of a car is only 5 to 10% of the time, it’s hardly worth buying new! So if you buy second hand you are saving on the production of yet another new car and on its parking for 90% of the time.
9- Use alternate mode of transport! Electric scooters, electric bikes, bicycles, if you live in a city a foldable bicycle is very useful as you can take it on other various modes of transport. Take the public transport to work, walk whenever possible.
10- Use clean energy! We need to reduce our CO2 emission, so whenever possible replace fossil fuels, by a more renewable source of energy solar or wind power as they don’t produce CO2 or use biofuel. Get your electricity from a clean energy provider and hopefully we can get rid of our old power and nuclear plants.
11- Air travel; The aviation sector currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions. On average flying from London to New York and back generates about 986 kg of CO2 per passenger. And a short flight from London to Rome carries a carbon footprint of 234 kg of CO2 per passenger. Just to put this into perspective this represent more than the average annual emission of CO2 per person, in 56 countries of the world. So if it’s for work or for pleasure flying is probably responsible for the largest part of your carbon footprint. So avoid flying and if at all possible, take the train, or even your car would significantly emit less greenhouse gases.. If you must fly, then fly economy class, as business class is responsible for 3 times as many gas emissions than economy and first class is easily 7 times higher, fly nonstop as taking off and landing produce more emissions.
12- At Home! This is where all the little changes come into place. Your lighting for example, if you switch from incandescent to LED you reduce your energy consumption by a quarter and they last 25 times more..
Switch lights off and unplug all electronic devices when you are not using them.
When your mobile devices are charged, unplug them, as leaving them recharging all night will consume more electricity.
Turn off your Wi-Fi box at night or during the day when you are at work.
I also did unplug my water heater as i have decided to shower cold all year round, but if you are not too enamored with that thought you could reduce the thermostat, and/or unplug it during the hours it’s not being used. Same with your aircon, lower it in the winter and raising it in the summer so your unit is not working 24/7 to maintain an extremely low or high temperature. If possible open your windows let some air in and only use your air conditioning unit when absolutely necessary. It’s a much healthier option and will save you money in the long run..
Change your mentality!
Nowadays information is so readily and easily available that there are no more excuses .. but information alone is not enough, the facts are there, we all have concrete evidence of all the climatic changes…so this is the time for taking action, one individual at a time, and one change at a time. Living to 100, is about optimizing many areas of your life, health, mindset, income, life purpose, etc. Very recently I have come to realize that the environment we live in, our planet’s future, is one of the most important ingredients in this “ Centenarian’s recipe “
Optimistically I believe that ultimately if our generation joins forces with the younger ones and start taking daily action, we will change our climate and avoid a major environmental catastrophe.
What do you think? Please leave down below your suggestions. Thanks.