The Planet Needs You: Get Involved!
Jun 13, 2022|12Responsible Consumption and Production
Humankind has grown so much over the last millennia. We went from living in caves and being hunters and gatherers to building smart cities and vast industries. In the 20th century, we invented the radio, television, electric refrigeration, wireless technology, and the internet, and we've even gone to outer space. As a result, our lives depend on technology more than ever as we work, learn, and communicate through the internet.
But, at what cost?
The human mind is limitless, but our home planet is not. And as we occupy more space and use more natural resources, more ecosystems are in danger. More animals go extinct, and more plants cease to develop. As a result, human greed will eventually make planet earth less hospitable for all. What we know as life today may cease to exist.
Unless we start taking action and making changes today, this is why the UN Sustainability Goal 12 is essential. It focuses on the impact our consumption and continuous production have on the planet. But it also underpins every other Sustainable Development Goal, from Zero Poverty to Peace and Justice. It is all interconnected.
It is our responsibility to minimize the effects of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint and making daily small but meaningful changes. Furthermore, it is also our responsibility to shake the status quo. So let's challenge the way things have been done and find sustainable solutions that can guarantee economic and sustainable development while protecting the environment. After all, this is our home #OnlyOneEarth.
But before we examine how consumption and production affect the environment, let's start by defining the two.
- Consumption: all the things we consume, eat, wear, use, take.
- Production: all the things we make.
The more we consume, the more we feel the need to make. Unfortunately, the more we make, the more we waste and the more resources we use. Let's rethink how we consume and work on restoring what we've destroyed by committing to living more sustainable lives.
Watch this video to learn more!
Doing More with Less: Ensuring Sustainable Consumption and Production
Every year, about one-third of all food produced—about 1.3 billion tones—is wasted. The United States discards more food than any other country in the world – with nearly 40 million tons every year. Meanwhile, 1 billion people go hungry every year.
Additionally, wasting food contributes to 11 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Common causes of food waste include overbuying, overproduction, and spoilage. All three causes are due to a lack of understanding of how to portion control or appropriate food storage. For example, how many people live with you at home? How much food is purchased and prepared every week? and how much of it ends up spoiled before you can eat it? discuss with your friends and family. You might be surprised how much these change from household to household. Can you think of a few ways to re-purpose food leftovers and make new meals?
Some ideas to prevent food waste at home
- Compost all the vegetable peels or boil them to make a veg stock that you can then freeze and use to add flavor to dishes when cooking pasta sauce, soups, stews, and casseroles.
- Reuse your banana peels by soaking them in water and then using that water to water plants. Your plants will love the added potassium.
- Make carrots last crunchy for longer by storing them in water in the fridge. Make sure you cover the whole carrot.
- Have leftover rice? Fried rice is best made with leftover rice. Add some veggies, some chicken or shrimp, and voila! A new meal.
- Leftover pasta sauce? You can use that same sauce as the base for a pizza, chicken parmesan, or chili con carne.
- Are you making a smoothie? No need to chop the top of the strawberries away. Add everything in!
- Use dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. Save them in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy the next day.
Living frugally is no longer about status. It is about the environment and the future of our planet. But it is not only about food waste.
An average family in the Global North (North America, Europe, and Australia) throws away around 30 kg of clothing each year. Furthermore, only 15% of that is recycled or donated; the rest goes directly to the landfill. As a result, we are filling our earth with discarded fashion items. Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. Additionally, we might add microplastics into the oceans every time we wash our clothes. This is why it is so important to buy garments built to last, made of sustainable materials, and garments produced under fair and ethical working conditions. Always do some research before you buy something new.
Use this checklist before buying something new
- Who made it? And was child labor involved?
- Is it cheap? Why is it so cheap?
- How many earth resources (water, materials, etc.) were used to make this item?
- Are these resources renewable?
- Where was it shipped from?
- Do they pack their products in excessive plastic? Or do they use alternative paper and compostable packaging?
- Do you really need it?
- How long will it last? Can you recycle or reuse it?
- Could you borrow it from someone else instead? or could you buy it second-hand?
Understanding what makes us want to buy new products is the first step to becoming conscious consumers.
Thinking Cap On
Think of a few items you often buy, perhaps things you use each school year - pens, notebooks, paper books, backpacks, clothing, shoes, lunchbox, etc.
And apply the following thinking:
- Refuse things you don't need (do the checklist before buying).
- Reduce the number of things you use.
- Reuse: Do you need a new backpack every school year, or can you reuse the one from last year?
- Recycle: Can you turn those jeans into shorts? Find ways to reinvent what you already have.
- Rot - if you can't do any other Rs, try to compost. But check first as not all items can be composted.
Let us know how you did!