Written by: Tim C
Our planet is the only home we have and so it’s important that we all look after it to keep it healthy and make sure it remains liveable. Humans haven’t exactly been kind to the earth over the years and rising carbon emissions, deforestation and pollution are fuelling environmental and climate crises. That’s why every year on the 22nd of April over one billion people take part in Earth Day to celebrate how great our collective home is, raise awareness about environmental issues and get involved in activities to make our world healthier.
Earth Day began in 1970 as a national demonstration in the United States that 20 million people across the country took part in. Today, Earth Day is a worldwide event that functions as a day of action to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy changes.
The theme for 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet” and while this action will have its biggest impact from governments and big corporations making the switch to sustainable policies and practices, everybody needs to get involved at some level. As members of the planet, we can all be part of making a change in our own way because every small step in the right direction can have a big impact if done by enough people.
Here at Hemming & Wills, we are passionate about protecting the planet. We strive to do our bit via our partnership with 1% for the planet as well as our range of sustainable furnitureoptions, such as our best-selling reclaimed range. We’ve put together a list of simple ways to be more sustainable so we can all help to make the world a healthier place.
Sending waste to landfills is bad for the planet as landfills produce air pollutants like methane and create highly toxic liquids likeleachate which can contaminate water systems. Limiting the waste you send to landfills stops it from becoming part of these harmful sites and there are three main ways to do this.
Reducing your consumption of products that create waste, reusing products in new ways instead of throwing them away and recycling waste so it can be made into something new are ways to limit the effects that waste has on the planet.
Reducing your consumption of single-use items like plastic bags, bottles and cutlery can be done by purchasing reusable items like tote bags and metal water bottles.
Reusing plastic bottles to create flower planters and reusing egg cartons to start off seedlings are just some fun ways to repurpose your waste.
Recycling simply involves taking the time to separate your waste so it can be processed into new products, this uses much less energy than creating a new product and therefore pollutes less.
Simply spending a little time and effort to stop the creation of more waste will prevent pollution and help protect the earth.
Litter is not only an eyesore on parks, beaches and public spaces but releases unnatural chemicals into its surroundings polluting water, soil and even the air we breathe. The majority of litter enters waterways and rivers, and eventually makes its way into oceans polluting all these natural ecosystems along the way.
Investing your time to clean up our natural spaces is not only a great way to make them look beautiful but also makes the natural environment a bit healthier as well. Why not organise a litter picking clean up at your local park or on the beach. Get outside, have some fun and help the planet along the way. Another idea is to go “plogging” instead of just going for a walk, jog or run. Plogging is a word originating in Sweden that refers to the act of picking up litter during your outdoor exercise routine (e.g. when jogging).
Helping mother nature get a bit healthier as you do too is a fun way to combine environmentalism with exercise. No matter how you do it, picking up litter is another easy way to help protect the planet by just spending a little bit of your time.
Turning on a light, watching TV and charging your phone might not seem like things that could harm the planet but electricity doesn’t just appear in your home by magic. A lot of the electricity we use is generated from fossil fuels such as coal, oil or natural gas. These non-renewable energy sources create toxic emissions which drive climate change and create air pollution that is damaging to our health.
Getting electricity from renewable sources is obviously the best way forward but since you can’t exactly build a wind turbine outside your house, conserving energy where you can is the next best thing! Until governments regulate the energy sector to encourage renewables and until the big energy companies switch away from harmful methods, reducing your own electricity consumption is a great way to do your bit. Making an effort to turn off lights at work and at home, turning off your computer when it is not in use and unplugging your chargers are all simple ways to conserve energy. Reducing your energy consumption is a win-win as it will save you money and help protect the planet a little more.
What better day to make the planet (literally) a bit greener than Earth Day. Trees are great and the more there are of them the better. Not only do they provide us with the oxygen we breathe and are great habitats for animals but they also capture and store the carbon that is damaging the planet.
Deforestation is clearly not great for the earth as it removes these amazing carbon extractors and actually contributes massively to greenhouse gases. Polluting the planet and getting rid of the very things that help stop pollution is not a great combination. However, the great thing about trees is that even if you chop them down you can grow some more. So, why not plant a tree in your garden or local park? You’ll be actively combating deforestation, helping limit climate change and they will be a great aesthetic addition to any outdoor space. What’s not to love!
Alternatively, if you can’t plant a tree simply recycling your paper can help stop trees from being chopped down. If everyone in the UK recycled just ten percent more paper it would save five million trees a year!
The global meat industry is another highly damaging sector that is contributing to climate change and is harming the planet. Gases like methane that are released from cows are heavily damaging to the environment and human health. Cattle producing methane in vast amounts make up a significant portion of global greenhouse gases and it is also an air pollutant that is hazardous for humans to breathe in.
The amount of land needed to raise animals for food consumption is vast and results in large scale deforestation causing carbon emissions and destroying natural ecosystems. Also, meat production is a very inefficient way to feed the world as it uses 77% of agricultural land but only provides us with 17% of consumption.
Reducing the amount of animal products we consume will help stop the negative impacts that the meat industry has on the planet. Try challenging yourself to cut out meat from your diet for a month or even simply don’t eat meat on one day of the week. Cutting out meat from our diets might be tricky as it is so ingrained in habits and cultures but every small reduction in meat consumption is a step towards a healthier planet.
We all know that our cars are polluting machines. However, before we even get in our cars, the heavily damaging and polluting processes involved in creating fossil fuels are already bad enough. Emissions from petrol not only harm the planet with greenhouse gases but also produce air pollution that is bad for our health.
Since driving cars is where we directly produce the most amount of pollution in our daily lives, it is also the easiest place to make a big difference. Driving a short distance to work or to the shops adds up over time and so making the effort to walk or bike these short distances is a great way to help mother nature get a bit healthier as you do too.
Taking a bus, train or tram or even carpooling are all great ways to reduce the amount you and your car pollute. Obviously, it can be tricky since we don’t all live in walkable communities with good public transport links but anywhere you can reduce your reliance on your car is a step in the right direction. Next time you're about to hop in your car, think about if there’s any way you can walk, bike or ride to your destination instead.
We are all in this together to help protect our planet and ensure it is a healthy and liveable place for everyone. The best way to increase the impacts that our small changes can have is to get more people involved and spread the message far and wide.
The more people that are behind the mission of reducing pollutants and protecting the environment, the faster change will come and the greater that change will be. Passing on the knowledge of why we should and how we can help the planet is important to ensure these messages carry on and have as far reaching and long-lasting effects as possible. Getting your friends and family involved in recycling or eating less meat, organising a litter picking event with your local community and teaching children about the impacts of climate change will all help build the momentum of the global Earth Day mission.
According to the latest IPCC reports we only have 8 years to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, so whatever you do this Earth Day make sure you keep it up throughout the year!
Earth Day isn’t about feeling guilty about our negative impact on the planet or down about how hopeless our own acts feel, it’s about celebrating how great our planet is and spreading the word on how we can make sure our amazing home stays healthy. The most important thing is to have fun, get involved and enjoy helping the earth become a better place.
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