Our planet is a vast system, where one link depends on another, and any changes in the natural balance we eventually feel. Increasingly, we are inventing new ways to preserve the environment, using alternative energy sources so as not to cause destructive processes in the environment.
Let’s get to know what Platfor.ma find out, whether recycling and energy-saving lamps can really save nature? And will electric cars forever save humanity from the products of the oil industry?
Scientists have long sounded the alarm, warning us that humanity consumes more than nature can give each year. This leads to the disappearance of forests, air and water pollution and the extinction of many species of animals. At this rate, hundreds of millions of people will be forced to look for another planet for life in this century. It is here that environmentalists come to the rescue with their ideas of saving the planet.
The sea question
In recent years, the production and use of plastic materials are beginning to be limited, as more and more is known about its harmful effects on the environment. However, its number in the world’s oceans continues to grow. According to researchers, there are already more than 150 million tons of plastic in the oceans and this number is relentlessly increasing every year. Imagine that a whole truckload of such waste is dumped into the ocean every minute to understand the full scale of the problem. According to the latest forecasts, in ten years the plastic in the ocean will be almost twice as much.
All this ultimately affects people. Thus, a study of drinking water worldwide showed that plastic particles are contained in 83% of samples. In addition, plastic accumulates in the tissues of edible fish, which also enters the diet of humans.
Most environmentalists believe that the most effective way to save the planet is to recycle plastic waste. One of the critical elements is waste sorting. Everyone knows how this process works – e.g., you bought a bottle of soda, and threw it in the right container after use. Then, instead of decomposing in a landfill for almost 500 years, it is shredded and reused to create furniture, stationery, and clothing.
However, in order for the processing to take place correctly, there is a long way to go from sorting to using the raw material in another industry. This is usually not very profitable. For example, in order to recycle one ton of waste in a metropolis like New York, you have to pay $300 more than just take out the garbage or burn it. Over the years, this amount will turn into millions of dollars.
If most environmentalists are convinced that recycling will overcome the planet’s pollution, then why don’t we see positive changes? After all, this is not the first year that powerful stations have been operating worldwide, where waste can be safely processed. The answer is straightforward – it’s not enough. For example, to compensate for the massive amount of harmful emissions emitted during the flight from New York to London, you need to recycle about 40 thousand plastic bottles. After reading the flight schedule of any airport, you can immediately understand – our generation is unlikely to witness an environmental miracle.
What can we do?
For starters, you should limit the daily use of plastic products on the farm. Finally, get rid of your “bag for packages” and make it a habit to take a shopping bag made of fabric. Firstly, it is pretty convenient, and secondly, it really minimizes the amount of plastic waste in your home. Of course, this is just a drop in the ocean, but significant changes always start with small steps.
Paper bag instead of oxygen
Another way to reduce the use of plastic is paper products. Convenient paper bags for groceries, paper cups at your favorite coffee shop, and even paper straws at McDonald’s! Well, isn’t it an ecologist’s dream? Of course, this way, you can avoid overproduction of plastic materials, but will it save the planet from pollution? As it turns out, not necessarily.
The fact is that, according to experts, waste from the production of paper bags pollutes the air by 70% more than plastic. And the papermaking process itself requires three times more of a valuable resource such as water than plastic production. Moreover, the process of recycling paper is also highly complex and often consumes enough energy to make a completely new product.
And we should not forget about the thousands of trees that disappear due to the production of this material. As a result, the natural balance is disturbed – less carbon is absorbed, which only increases the impact of the greenhouse effect.
Here, too, small fabric bags can help us. They are pretty convenient to put in your pocket before going to the store, or just always carry with you. This way, you can get rid of it depending on new packages – both paper and plastic. Another level of awareness is one’s own cups, but this is for true adherents of nature.
Electric cars disaster
Not everything is so simple with electric cars, which are supposed to be an environmental rescue for the transport sector. Experts from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have shown that electric machines can pollute the air even more than conventional cars during the entire period of production, operation and disposal. The nuance is that classic cars hit the roads the hardest by nature, while electric cars on the roads are relatively safe, but they cause damage during other stages of their lives.
For example, waste from factories that make electric cars contains more toxic substances, which then enter our atmosphere. The car battery can cause carbon emissions, which is the leading enhancer of the greenhouse effect. Rare elements are also used in the construction of electric cars, which are produced in violation of human rights in countries such as the Congo or China.
Also, keep in mind that the energy used to charge even the most environmentally friendly electric car comes from somewhere. And very often this electricity is produced in absolutely classic power plants, where coal and gas are burned – while harming the environment.
So far, the abandonment of traditional fuels and the transition to alternative fuels is impossible due to the extraordinary role of oil in the world economy. This fact is also underlined by the fact that world oil production has reached its peak in the last five years. It is widely used for the manufacture of liquid fuels, lubricants and many synthetic materials.
Oil is the primary source of fuel in the United States and many other countries, and the world’s economy is largely linked to the value of these hydrocarbons. Even if in the future humanity will move only with the help of electric machines, this does not guarantee the protection of the environment from harmful petroleum products.
If both types of cars are to some extent harmful to the environment, and you still do not want to move on foot, you can choose a more environmentally friendly vehicle, e.g., a bicycle or a scooter. They are ideal for overcoming short distances and will protect you from morning traffic jams. In addition, a daily bike ride will keep you in shape.
If for some reason this is not possible, then one way out may be the economy of shared consumption, which is becoming increasingly crucial for the modern world. This is when a family does not buy a car or even two, but unites with neighbors to have one car for two farms and use it as needed. Or not to buy a car at all, but to agree with those who also go to work every day in the same direction to use their car.
Energy-saving lamps are gradually replacing conventional ones around the world. People are attracted by their long shelf life – up to 12 thousand hours, when traditional lamps, it is a maximum of 1000 hours. In general, the main advantage is, of course, saving electricity. These lamps consume five times less electricity and, unlike conventional ones, do not heat up. In addition, energy-saving lamps provide a stable luminous flux, which is very good for our eyesight, especially when working at a computer.
However, there is one slight nuance – energy-saving lamps can be deadly dangerous to humans and the environment. The tubes of these lamps contain mercury vapor, which can be poisoned by direct contact. Therefore, if the energy-saving lamp breaks, the room should be ventilated and cleaned immediately.
In addition, such lamps cannot just be thrown in the trash because in the landfill they will begin to emit toxic substances into the soil and nearby water bodies. It is because of mercury that these lamps cannot be recycled. They should be disposed of in special containers, which, unfortunately, are not so many.
What can we do?
The main thing – do not throw the lamp in the usual trash. Google where there are special reception points in your city and take old lamps there when there are enough of them to beat your laziness. Nature thanks.
Organic is not always eco-friendly
Consumption of organic products has become one of the main trends in recent years. At every step, we see attractive signs – “organic tomatoes,” “organic product.” Indeed, the consumption of organic food reduces the risk of pesticides and herbicides entering our bodies. The cultivation of organic vegetables and fruits protects the environment from poisoning by chemical fertilizers, which usually enter new areas through wind and rain, are absorbed into the ground and as a result, fall into groundwater. According to scientists, even small doses of chemicals can cause irreparable damage to crops.
Because organic products are grown without chemicals and pesticides, they are prone to disease and pests. These factors porovoke the production of natural toxins in plants, which can then spoil the entire crop, and hence the soil. In addition, organic production can be very unprofitable because you never know for sure what part of the crop without chemical support from the outside will be able to withstand temperature changes and other natural changes. That is why for the cultivation of such products is allocated a more significant number of land plots, which deplete the soil and lead to the destruction of the habitats of many animals. According to the research conducted in Germany in 2018, organic crops need 40% more land than conventional crops.
According to the 2018 data, the amount of harvest from organic farms is 34% lower than in conventional agriculture. Organic production produces fewer vegetables and grains that are needed for daily consumption. In addition, growing such products requires more time and effort because in the absence of pesticides, the crop should be constantly checked and carefully cared for. Hence we have a sky-high price for environmentally friendly products.
It’s hard here – you have to eat every day. But you can try to analyze the labels and choose the products that are grown with the least harm to nature. And you can grow food yourself!
We collected for you a few arguments why farming in apartments and on roofs is excellent choice. Read the full text here.