4 Countries Leading Global Change & What You Can do to Help
Mother Earth feeds us, nourishes us, bathes us, provides us with shelter and even plays a part in the wellbeing of our mind. Caught in the busyness of our daily lives it is easy to forget the overall significance that she plays. Now more than ever we must focus on preserving Mother Nature for our children and the generations to come. Every single one of our actions has an effect and it is important to realize how we individually and collectively play a part in our eco-system. I am incredibly impressed by the global initiatives these countries are taking to better our environment that I thought I would share in hopes to inspire and realize the impact we can make together.
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or a large number of trees from land that is then converted to non-forest use. Deforestation can involve conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use. In 2016 Norway became the first country in the world to band deforestation. Norway has now invested over a billion to stop deforestation in Brazil, Liberia and Indonesia. Norway may have won my heart.
Deforestation is happening at such a high rate that nearly half of the Earth’s original forest cover has already been lost. This means that it can lead to severe climate change, lack of rainfall, increase in floods and the fate of millions of plants and animal species being at the risk of extinction. In addition, as tropical forests houses biodiverse wildlife and pathogens, cutting down trees destroy their habitats causing infectious diseases to spillover and transmit to humans. A number of diseases transmitted have been linked to deforestation.
What you can do: Cut down on consumption of beef, soy, palm oil and wood/paper products. Check that your coffee, tea and cocoa come from sustainable sources. These commodities are lead drivers in tropical deforestation.
SHIFTING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY
Renewable energy has become a hot topic over the years. It is energy needed for heating, cooking and lighting that can be generated from water, wind or the sun, basically any source that is replenished through a natural process.
Sweden has taken a rather impressive lead on progressing their country towards the use of renewable energy — with goals to have 100% renewable electricity production by 2040. What has made their objective successful is the support of the government policies in place which require electricity retailers to purchase a proportion of green electricity as part of their normal supply.
What you can do: Be mindful of your energy usage. Use LED bulbs, they use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last longer. Unplug idle electronics (scanners, printers, televisions, microwaves) they continue to pull small amounts of energy even when plugged and not in use. In the US, total electricity consumed by idle electronics equals the annual output of 12 power plants Turn off lights when not in use. To make a bigger impact, power your home with renewable energy by installing solar panels, choosing an energy supplier that is backed by renewable sources, and investing in an air source heat pump.
PRODUCING SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Sustainable fashion may have once conjured up the image of a model walking down the runway wearing burlap sacks or brown paper bags but that is far from what it stands for. As many understand this importance, more and more companies are popping up giving people the option to choose garments using natural fibers that leave less of a carbon footprint. Reducing the impact on the Earth and the amount of resources during production is also a big part of what makes up sustainable fashion.
As Bangladesh is one of the top garment manufacturing industries in the world, in 2013 the Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (PaCT) was launched to focus on reducing the impact and resources of Bangladesh’s textile sector. It is one of the first programs to address the environmental and sustainability challenges related to the textile industry. Their initiatives include reducing excessive ground water extraction, surface water pollution as well as chemical and energy use. This is a big movement for the fashion world in the right direction.
The fashion industry consumes the most water and is known to be one of the highest polluting industries in the world. Synthetic clothing (like polyester and acrylic) releases tiny plastic fibers when washed. These plastic fibers detach from the clothing during washing and goes into the wastewater that flows into the sewage treatment facilities which in turn ends up in our oceans. These are the same oceans that provide us fish that we eat and drinking water for some therefore entering our bodies. This is a bigger problem than we think.
What you can do: There is a difference between fast fashion and sustainable fashion. Sustainable brands focus on quality, using materials and finishes that are made to last creating timeless pieces that are kind to the environment. By seeking out sustainable fashion, you in-turn reduce your own environmental footprint.
GOING PLASTIC FREE
Plastic has become a big cause of environmental concern for good reason. Plastics are not biodegradable, they pollute the earth and are harmful to marine life. Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms because they are entangled, have blocked digestive tracts, or pierced organs. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. Microplastics have been found in more than 100 aquatic species, including fish, shrimp, and mussels that make their way into our meals.
Understanding the repercussions of our throwaway culture, France banned plastic cups, plates and cutlery. To keep the momentum for this revolution, France has launched its plan to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2040 and is requiring plastic dish manufacturers to start making their products only from biodegradable material. Hopefully this will set an example for other countries to follow.
What you can do: Eliminate single-use plastic in your day-to-day life. Ordering takeout from home? Be sure to note or tell the restaurant you do not need utensils. The obvious, invest in a good reusable water bottle and always carry an extra tote bag.
There is hope, our eco-system is so resilient it can repair itself if given the chance. Our planet can be taken care of, but not replaced.
Love + Light,