Friday, February 3, 2023

Debunking Green Myths About the Environment

by Ivan Anthony A. Adaro | November 27, 2021

Frankly, it is easy to dismiss the daily news rundown about what is happening around us. For something so big that concerns an entire planet, it may be easy to turn a blind eye to these issues. Unless we experience these problems in our backyards, we fail to address them. Here are some of the daily activities we are doing in our backyards that may seem harmless but are actually not.

Myth 1: Environmentally, there’s nothing wrong with consuming huge amounts of meat. 

The harmless meat on the dinner table isn’t so fancy for the environment after all. Research proves that farmed livestock is the biggest producer of methane gas in the world. In other words, the herding of pigs, cattle, sheep, and other animal products is very harmful to the environment, mostly because of their manure that produces high sources of methane.

Meat is a staple in most diets. Throughout history, it has been the source of protein. As farmers continue to increase the supply of the goods by raising and stocking more animals, leading to the production of greenhouse gases in enormous amounts. 

Surely, there is a promising alternative to consuming meat. In fact, we may turn to plants! Peas, beans, and tofu are some of these options that one can switch to.

Myth 2: Paper bags over plastic ones.

In our science classes, we are taught every day that plastics have many harmful effects on the environment. Because of that, this knowledge has led most of us to believe that paper is a more natural and eco-friendly product. In truth, your paper bags are just as harmful as plastic ones (maybe even worse). Compared to plastic, the production of paper emits more greenhouse gases and uses more resources like energy and trees. On top of that, paper bags aren’t reusable. 

So, during your next trip to the mall, consider that papers are just as harmful as plastics. Go for durable, reusable bags, preferably made from recycled materials.

Myth 3: Throwing a piece of candy wrapper in canals is harmless 

When we were kids, we surely must have thought that throwing a single piece of candy wrapper in canals is harmless. Some of us, even at this age, might still be even tempted to throw a piece of trash in the nearest canal we could find and believe that it will just degrade itself in the water. However, that is not the case.

An environmental principle states that everything goes somewhere. And this includes small candy wrappers that are littered in canals or are being inserted in hidden spots. The lone candy wrapper can easily be carried through the waterways and pose a huge threat to marine lives especially when large concentrations of these plastics reach the open sea. On a more dangerous note, these wrappers may degrade into microplastics through exposure to sunlight and end up in the bellies of the fishes, then to our dining tables.

At the bottom of the sea where sunlight cannot reach, trash will not degrade. Instead, it will be preserved and remain for millions of years until it finally decomposes.

Myth 4:  Landfills solve all our waste problems.

Landfills are necessary for proper solid waste management and disposal. They keep our homes and communities clean and most importantly, it reduces the number of scattered wastes. While it is very simple to put all our household wastes in one trash bag and to be collected by a garbage collector once a week, it is also very easy to forget the fact where this trash ends — to a mountain of other trash.  

The most alarming concern in relation to landfills is their release of methane gases into the atmosphere. According to American Studies, almost two-thirds of landfill waste is biodegradable. You might even think that this is even better since biodegradable wastes have benefits to the environment, like being fertilizers for plants to grow but in reality, that statement is false. Biodegradable wastes do decompose, and with other non-biodegradable wastes present in the landfill, these wastes will produce harmful gases like carbon dioxide and methane – both of which are potent greenhouse gases and top contributors to global warming.

Myth 5: Excessive Online Shopping Makes Everyone Better Off.

Online shopping births the idea of convenience. And with convenience shopping, we get parcels at our doorstep with a tap of a finger. While this makes us better off, this does not stand the same for the environment. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. Logistics companies face the struggle of minimizing their emissions just for these parcels to reach us. 

The plastic wrappers and the adhesives used for our packages, make them more unrecyclable with every “layer of protection” added. At the ending stage of these plastics’ life, they are left to “rot” in landfills or burnt in incinerators that in turn, go back to the environment as harmful fumes.

How do we reverse our actions? 

The simplest part we can play is to live a greener life and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. We must always make it a habit to pick up our trash, dispose of it properly, and segregate it accordingly. Together, let us take the giant leap to limit carbon footprint by reducing our screen time and online shopping activities. In this world where the environment is our only home, let us preserve its beauty and always strive for green and positive change, starting with ourselves. 

All our habits impact the environment one way or another. Just because we don’t experience problems in our own backyard, doesn’t mean we can sleep on these issues. We are responsible for our daily activities that contribute to the planet’s problems.

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