Although “living green” has different meanings to everyone, there are a number of overlapping factors that contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle. Essentially, when a person lives green, the individual endeavors to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible, but what exactly is a carbon footprint anyway?
Well, a carbon footprint is basically the sum total of greenhouse gas emissions caused by any form of entity. Greenhouse gas emissions are the reason that we are in the midst of a global warming crisis and for this reason, it is important to keep our carbon footprints as light as possible.
With the health of the planet in question, it should go without saying that every green action contributes to rebalancing the eco-system. While global warming may seem like a distant threat, in reality our ozone layer has already been damaged to the point where the polar ice caps are melting.
This means a rise in ocean levels, as well as a reduction in the natural environment home to wild animals such as polar bears. According to the World Wildlife Fund, polar bears are dying because “Polar bears rely heavily on sea ice for traveling, hunting, resting, mating and, in some areas, maternal dens.”
In other words, without the ice burgs, the polar bears are forced to swim further between rests. As a result, polar bears have begun to drown and have been classified as an endangered species since as early as 2008. But greenhouse gas emissions have far more drastic consequences than endangering animals alone (and there are many already at risk of extinction).
Pollution and landfills also contribute to the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, not to mention the earth’s dwindling natural resources. With so many issues jeopardizing the future of life on the planet, millions are turning towards a greener way of life.
The Golden Rule of Living Green
To “live green” means to live in harmony with nature to the best of our unique abilities. Of course, not everyone can afford to make big changes to their mode-of-transport or power supplies, but this doesn’t mean that a contribution can’t be made. In fact, the number one principle of green living is the philosophy of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”
Although nearly everyone on the planet has heard this expression in one language or another, the finer details of the practice are less well-known. For example, did you know that the phrase “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” is intended to be adhered to in chronological order?
In other words it is most important to reduce, then to reuse, and lastly to recycle. Unfortunately, due to the lack of education on the part of governments around the world, most people believe that recycling is the number one solution. However, recycling requires energetic resources that are no longer in ample supply.
The power needed to physically recycle materials like glass, tin and paper still eats away at the dwindling fossil fuels. That being said, recycling extends the life-span of certain materials – particularly aluminum and glass. Paper can only be recycled a finite number of times, after which it is generally processed into compostable materials.
So how then does one reduce waste, before resorting to recycling? Well, in addition to buying only what you need, reducing boils down to the concept of “pre-cycling.” Pre-cycling is the art of opting to purchase items with as little packaging as possible, or at the very least to opt for packaging without plastic.
Single-use plastic serves little to no purpose other than containing and preserving food. Furthermore, it is the main culprit for ocean-pollution, as well as overcrowded landfills. There are serious problems with single-use plastic, and this should be the first material that we aim to “reduce.”
Caring for the Oceans and Earth
One of the best green living benefits is helping in protecting our world. When plastic is not sent to landfills, it generally finds its way into the oceans. In fact, there is so much plastic in the ocean that two “plastic islands” can be seen from outer space. As plastic is not biodegradable, this means that without drastic action, the plastic islands are there to stay.
Of course, this has a number of harmful effects on the environment, particularly in regards to the well-being of marine life. Sea-dwelling creatures are not familiar with plastic, and as a result, many try to eat it – and die as a result. Furthermore, some will actually suffocate in the plastic, motivating the concept of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”
In terms of the landmines, single-use plastic takes up most of the space. As if this weren’t enough of a problem, the landfills are also leaching methane gas. This is because even organic or compostable materials cannot decompose naturally in a landfill, thus causing further greenhouse gas emissions.
To prevent this, living green advocates composting all biodegradable materials, either in a garden heap or handy indoor bag. Composting is easy, and it is one of the best ways to reduce waste and lessen the carbon footprint. In a sense, composting could be defined as “reusing”, given that the organic nutrients will be returned to the earth.
All in all, living green is about an awareness of the environment around us, which leads to taking actions towards a brighter future for planet earth. Of course, developing the habit of “reduce, reuse and recycle” may take some time. However, the effort is worth the reward when we think of the health of future generations.
With consistent and incremental changes, we can all live a greener, and every person can make a difference. If we were all to reduce and reuse as much as possible, using recycling as a last-ditch method for certain materials, we could see major differences in the ozone layer in years to come.
Now, after you learned the green living benefits and it importance in our life, do you want to go green and live more ecofriendly? Tell us in the comments…
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