Friday, June 14, 2024

The Skeptic’s Guide to a Sustainable Shift

by Emmarie May Bonganciso | April 24, 2022

The science wrapped around climate change is complex and intricate. But all roads lead to one conclusion. The global environmental situation has gone bad and ugly. And it will only continue to be so from here on out. Still, many believe climate change to be mere speculation, a conspiracy theory, or a pressure point to tick off multi-million corporations. Others may hold a stoic stance, “Well, it’s too late, too big of a problem and frankly, the world’s going to end whether we like it or not anyway.” But then there’s the skeptic, the person perhaps somewhere in between. They acknowledge that there is a huge problem, the changes are evident, yet the reason is foreign. And they are not too sure if any sort of effort coming from them will really make a difference. Maybe you don’t want a commitment or too big of a change in your own lifestyle. Perhaps you just care more about the direct day-to-day issues you face. But hey, you’re willing to start somewhere and give sustainable living a try. Where do you start? 

Start simple. Clean out emails. Clean up your life. 

As creatures who just love our tools and toys so much we’ve practically destroyed the planet in the name of innovation and comfort, the best way to start is to throw out the trash — in your emails. Apparently, it’s not just car fumes, deforestation, and burning fossil fuels that pollute the planet. Tweets, likes, and Google searches are all adding to the problem. The Good Planet organization explains that digital transactions consume electricity and produce carbon emissions because they are powered by data centers that house thousands of servers. On average, we have around 500 unread emails. If we deleted these unread emails, assuming they’re not important, that would delete 175 grams of carbon dioxide if each email contributed 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide. If everyone around the world deleted 10 emails (spam or not spam), that has the power of deleting 1,725 GB because storing 1 GB of emails or 1,000 emails takes 32 kWh, generating 55.2 million kWh. 

So if you want somewhere to start in your journey to sustainability, clean out your emails. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t need, delete spam emails, don’t sign up for newsletters you aren’t going to read and delete emails after reading them. But don’t just stop there. This is a journey, remember? 

Try sustainable eating. 

The most crucial thing to know about our economy is how it is such a linear process in many areas. One of them is our consumption of food. Whether we eat out or shop in bulk at grocery stores, there is always the problem with packaging waste — most of which is plastic which is here now and, well, here forever. It’s a linear process, starting with manufacturing all the way to wastelands and bodies of water. By the time your food gets onto your plate, it would have gone through so many processes that either needed water, energy, or plastic to make it possible. Isn’t that just ridiculous to actually think about? So the next time you ever decide to change your diet because you want to get the body you want, try to think of how a sustainable, local, and a more plant-based diet can help the environment. And let your friends join in on it too! It won’t feel like such a directionless change if done in groups where you can encourage each other to live sustainably. 

Lights out! Save energy at home. 

Not only will your mother thank you for turning off the bathroom light when you’re done, but little habits like these built-up indeed make a big difference. Try taking shorter showers, make use of natural lighting during the day, fix those leaky faucets, and unplug unused electronics. These are all no-cost tiny habits to do at home. The tiny things that our parents have probably bugged us about all the time. Cutting down your electric consumption is not only practical and responsible, but environmentally beneficial. This practice and awareness of the need to save energy may pave the way for you to consider using more renewable energy sources such as solar and geothermal energy. You may also start considering biomass from plants. Try to look into these alternatives. Take it slow, make yourself comfortable with the change, and then branch out to more sustainable alternatives for other things such as transportation and clothing. 

So you see, you don’t need to be a radical environmental activist if you don’t want to. You can still give your part in dealing with this global crisis by simply living well and responsibly. What does that mean? Organize your life, and your files, and sift through your emails. Eat well! This is how you can show that you value your body and the planet that has practically kept you alive and sustained. And lastly, start little by little with energy preservation. The things mentioned are not revolutionary actions on their own. They may not be as radical as chaining yourself to city hall or throwing fake blood at the gates of a national council. But the consistency done by myriads is what it takes to catalyze an effort. 

Our window of opportunity is about to close. The science is real. We feel it every single day. Scientists have pleaded for over thirty years to be heard. If we don’t start the global effort to shift to renewable energy, we compromise the security and stability of humanity as we know it. We need not be overwhelmed by the size of this issue. Sometimes, all we ordinary people can do is as simple as choosing a better, healthier alternative. And that is infinitely more than just turning a blind eye. 

References:

The Good Planet. (2020, June 2). Save our Planet by Deleting emails – The Good Planet. thegoodplanet.org. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from https://thegoodplanet.org/2020/06/02/how-you-can-save-our-planet-by-deleting-emails/

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