Earth day 2021- What can we do as individuals?

Every year, April 22 marks Earth Day. 

The origin of this day of environmental mobilization dates back to the 70s, when the environmental movement took off alongside other civil society movements, in particular with students.

Since then, this day has reminded us to celebrate biodiversity, but also the growing urgency to act to preserve it. Despite the pandemic, 2021 is no exception. The climate and environmental crises have not been put on hold and GHG emissions are likely to skyrocket this year.

What can we do to help protect the planet, our home for our children and future generations?

We can start by educating ourselves and our children about the role we can play as individuals in protecting the environment.  

Becoming environmentally conscious means changing our daily behaviours at every level – individual, family, community, and decision-making. Lets take some time to reflect on where our trash goes, how we use energy, and how we use water. We are essential starting points in protecting our forests and the oceans.

The climate crisis is already shifting to our own backyards, we are losing precious spaces in the North while some countries are drying up.

We have to take the time to think about our daily habits and understand that small choices can lead to a larger impact. Each of us possesses this power and we have to put it to use to save our planet.

If agriculture is responsible for a quarter of gas emissions, animal agriculture produces 80% of this amount and is also responsible for deforestation. Reducing our meat consumption is healthy for our body and the planet.

One of the things we don’t think about often is food waste. I just found out that it accounts for more than 8 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions! This makes it a big contributor to climate change.

“Globally, if food waste could be represented as its own country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the US” – United Nations Environment

 

Reducing food waste would help reverse global warming. Food is wasted all along its journey from the farm to our fridges, but solutions exist at every stage.

Upcycling is one of them and is a growing industry that  turns waste into a material or product that is of higher value than the original so food that would have been wasted is recovered for human consumption. Environmental costs inputs and GHG emissions are not borne in vain.

It is different from recycling which turns waste into reusable product (example: compost), often of lesser value.

The return on investment of Upcycling is not only environmental but also economic and social. Lately, many products containing upcycled foods have been showing up on retail shelves. To find out more, go to: https://www.upcycledfood.org/.

These are but a few ideas we can participate in, here are a few simple gestures we can all do:

  • Take your reusable bags with you when you shop to avoid using plastic bags
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room. During the day, open your curtains and enjoy natural light. 
  • Don’t buy water bottles, use a reusable bottle instead. Also use reusable containers for your lunches
  • Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth and limit your shower to 5 minutes
  • Put your computer to “sleep” instead of leaving it on running on the screensaver
  • Recycle cans, bottles, paper, books, bring used clothing and toys where they will be used again.
  • Choose rechargeable batteries, then recycle them when they die. Unplug chargers when not in use
  • Before buying anything new, search for used or free items! 
  • If you can, walk or use your bike instead of the car
  • Reuse scrap paper for writing notes or creating crafts
  • Borrow a digital book from the library to reduce waste

Have a great week and stay safe!

With Love

Suzanne

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