Responsible consumption, a key to protecting the environment
Are you sure you know how to protect the environment? Many of us believe that we lead lives that respect nature but our consumption habits give us away. Many little habits that seem to be sustainable are in fact polluting. We will show you the five mistakes that are the most harmful to the health of our planet.
Our habits generate over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions and account for 80% of the water used in the world.
If by 2050 there are 9.6 billion inhabitants on the earth, as the United Nations (UN) predicts, we will need almost three planets-worth of natural resources to be able to supply our needs and live as we do now. But there is only one Earth and therefore everything that we do for it, however small, has great importance.
We will show you five everyday practices that you thought were harmless, or even ecological, but that cause considerable damage to the environment.
Eating too much meat, fish, and fruit
These foods are essential for our diet, although they are not very healthy for the natural environment. In a 2018 report, Greenpeace warned that 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from industrial stock farming. The meat industry, for example, negatively affects land use as between 75 and 80% of the world’s agricultural land is used for stock breeding. But if this same land were used for growing vegetables, there could be food for 4 billion people more.
Overfishing does not help to take care of the environment, either, since it harms the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. You can also be a responsible fruit consumer by choosing seasonal varieties.
Buying coffee pods and teabags
Around the world, we throw away over 7 billion coffee pods a year, or around 13,500 a minute, according to calculations by Halo, the leading British packaging manufacturer. These pods are mostly made of aluminum and plastic, a fact that makes them a very obvious enemy of the environment.
The United States, Italy, and Spain are the countries with the highest consumption of these single-dose containers, which we also tend not to recycle, or do so badly since the legislation does not consider the packaging and they should be placed in special collection points.
Teabags also help to produce environmental pollution: the bags are harmful to the planet because they contain nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of petroleum-based plastic.
Another step you can take to reduce your consumption of this type of product is to choose more sustainable alternatives, like traditional coffee makers and loose tea.
Using paper bags
We think that because they are made of paper they are not as harmful as the five billion plastic bags that we use around the world annually, according to the UN. But the reality is very different: they are rarely reused and tend to end up in the organic waste bin.
In addition, the amount of energy needed to manufacture a paper bag is four times more than for a plastic bag and its production requires a large amount of water and wood, emits harmful gases into the atmosphere, and uses chemicals that pollute watercourses and harm ecosystems. A good substitute for paper bags is long-lasting, washable, and reusable cotton bags.
Washing with non-ecological detergents and softeners
Most laundry soaps are toxic, as they contain dyes and other polluting substances, such as phosphates, surfactants, 1.4-dioxane solvent, or optical whiteners that never break down. These components cause irritation and allergies, pollute the water and harm marine ecosystems.
The carbon footprint caused by the use of detergents just in the United States is 218 kg per family per year, to which we need to add the energy used by washers and dryers. The solution is to use ecological laundry detergents with natural, biodegradable ingredients.
Drinking bottled water
Plastic bottles are a clear example of environmental pollution. According to Greenpeace, they take about 500 years to decompose. These bottles, 500 billion of which are manufactured each year worldwide, can affect our health due to the microparticles that they leave in the bottled water.
The American NGO Orb Media analyzed the mineral water in over 250 bottles by leading brands in 2018 and 93% tested positive for polypropylene, nylon, or PET. The only environmentally responsible option, therefore, is to drink tap water or use reusable glass bottles.