Refreshing your lifestyle can and should go beyond health. Our planet is slowly dying and humans are the direct cause. The earth simply cannot sustain us long term with our current disregard for the environment.
The good news? There are countless simple ways we can all start to make a positive difference. So while you are refreshing your health, why not also adopt some simple habits to help reduce your ecological footprint. Big or small, the planet will thank you.
Need some motivation?
Think about the amount of garbage and recycling you and your family produce each week. Now mentally times that by the number of people in your neighborhood, city, province/state, country, continent, etc. There are nearly 8 billion people in the world to put it in perspective.
How have we not run out of space to dump our garbage? Well, slowly we are. There are over 2500 active landfills in Canada with over 25 million tonnes of waste added annually. It might seem like it disappears once it leaves our doorstep . . . out of sight out of mind . . . but the problem is real. Old landfills are everywhere and the numbers will only rise. Surprisingly, many old landfills are covered and turned into parks and golf courses. While we have come a long way in terms of hiding and containing our garbage and its emissions, do we really want toxic garbage buried beneath our golf tee or family picnic?
And how much of what we put in our blue bin is actually recycled? Where does it go?
Canadians are gradually recycling more, however we are also consuming and producing recycling more rapidly than ever. Statistics show that less than 11% of plastics are recycled in Canada, with the rest ending up in landfills, oceans and the environment. Of the materials “recycled” up to 25% is contaminated and is sent to the landfill. It is estimated that each percentage point of contamination costs cities an extra 500 thousand to a million dollars per year; a cost that is transferred to the public.
Canada is one of the worse countries in the world for producing waste, with each citizen producing an average of 770 kilograms of waste per year.
Here are some more staggering Canadian statistics:
Over 1 billion plastic bags are handed out per year.
As many as 2 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year.
Canadian households receive an average of 25 pounds of junk mail per year.
57 million plastic straws are thrown away PER DAY.
The average Canadian wastes around 170 kg of food per year for a total of 1.3 billion tons and 31 billion dollars.
Also of note…
Landfills produce more than 20% of Canada’s methane gas (a potent greenhouse gas).
Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade.
Half of all plastic manufactured will become trash within 1 year.
8 million metric tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.
Shocking, yes. Unfortunately garbage is just one of the things destroying our planet.
Everyone's heard of greenhouse gasses and global warming, but what exactly are they?
Very simply put, rising levels of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, produced from burning fossil fuels, waste and wood products, animal agriculture, decaying waste and other industrial activities trap the suns heat in the atmosphere at levels that far exceed the natural greenhouse effect. As a result there is 42% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today as compared to 150 years ago.
The impact is what is referred to as global warming. This includes more extreme heat waves, drought, heavier precipitation, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification and more frequent and extreme wildfires; all of which are having an increasingly negative impact on habits, animals and humans.
This seems bigger than us, right? In many ways it is. Government policies are the reason large corporations can get away with polluting the air, land and water, destroying forests and drilling into the earth. But we as the consumer need to take some blame. For if it were not for us there would be no need for any of it. Not only do we buy and consume in excess, use and waste high levels of electricity, burn fuel in our vehicles and homes and fly around the world on airplanes, we purchase products made across the world that need to be transported tens of thousands of miles, polluting the environment and overcrowding our oceans. Products made in factories with high levels of pollution, and that often end up in the landfill within a short period of time. As a population we also consume considerable amounts of meat, eggs and dairy that require significant land to grow (compared to plants) resulting in an unsustainable level of deforestation, not to mention the greenhouse gasses emitted from their waste and by-product. I could go on...
I don't mean to scare you! My goal is to simply paint a picture and get it on your mind. No, you don't need to stop eating meat or driving your car, but being more mindful of the state of our planet can help motivate you to make small changes to lessen your impact. Small changes are often a catalyst for bigger changes.
The more you know, the more educated decisions you can make. Take a look at your municipal or provincial/state recycling program online. Most communities have some sort of recycling program making it hard not to do the minimal. My city has a curbside pickup with most recycling going into one bin, however, there are some items that can no go in, such as glass, soft plastics, propane tanks, batteries, and other large items. For many, some or all of these items go in the garbage. I get it, storing them is annoying and making regular trips to the recycling depot is time-consuming. Maybe you think nothing of it or don't know they can be recycled. Ignorance is bliss. But not anymore!
Landfills are already overflowing with items that probably could have been reused or diverted elsewhere...don't be part of the problem!
So what can you do? SO MUCH! Check out the blog posts below for ideas and motivation to start showing some love to our planet.