Written by: Georgia Carter
Unparalleled heat waves in Arizona. Impossible snowfalls in Texas. Uncontrollable wildfires across Europe. Flooding in Germany and China.
These are but a few examples of the weather catastrophes sprawling around the globe. The primary cause? Global Warming.
Caption: Uncontrollable fires are raging across the planet due to global warming.
Credit: Matt Palmer, Unsplash
There’s no denying it any longer. Rising temperatures and increased sea levels are starting to cause chaos on the planet - and this is only the beginning. In light of these natural disasters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC, recently released their most current report on the matter. It’s the bluntest, most stark warning we have received yet.
“The evidence is everywhere: if we don’t act, the situation is going to get really bad,” climatologist and co-author Xuebin Zhang says.
Founded in 1988, the IPCC is a United Nations governmental body that consists of leaders, scientists, and climatologists from around the globe. The aim of this conglomerate is simple: provide truthful scientific evidence and information that proves human-induced climate change and global warming, the impacts of this destruction, and the potential responses we must take in order to mitigate the negative effects.
Caption: Individuals, businesses, and scientists are pleading for drastic change to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
The latest report was compiled by over 200 scientists from around the world. The report has been published three months before the next universal climate summit, which will occur in Glasgow, in a plea for all governments to come up with appropriate and drastic solutions to mitigate global warming.
The report contains numerous statistics, facts, and figures to help readers fully understand the complexity and dire situation presented by climate change as a whole. Below, we unpack the most crucial points:
1) Global warming levels are fast approaching the 1.5 and even the 2-degree limit. Currently, the planet’s temperature is reaching 1.1 degrees celsius - a first in the last 125 000 years. If we continue to emit as much carbon dioxide as we have been, we will far exceed the boundaries of the greenhouse gasses our atmosphere can hold within the next decade. This means we will reach our tipping point, which will be practically irreversible.
2) The effects of reaching this tipping point include uncontrollable wildfires, increased rainfall and flooding, severe droughts, and amplified permafrost thawing. We are already seeing the start of these natural disasters, but these are only minor impacts compared to the detrimental chaos that will occur if we supersede our global warming limit. The worst weather change will be drought, famine, and extreme heat waves. And these disasters won’t happen as singular events - they may occur all at once, making it impossible to find relief. This will dramatically impact agriculture practices for the worst, resulting in a knock-on effect for socio-economic issues across the globe.
3) Unfortunately, some climate and ecological changes cannot be reversed. Coastlines will be lost. Biomes will disappear. Biodiversity will take a harsh knock. Millions of animals and people will lose both their homes and their lives. While some ecosystems are already lost, we still have a chance to mitigate and even halt other drastic impacts on parts of the planet.
4) The most important aspect of the report states that we still have a chance to protect the planet for future generations, but we need to start implementing dramatic sustainable solutions RIGHT NOW. Every little bit truly does count and can make a difference, on both an individual and governmental level.
Caption: One of the numerous effects of global warming is drastic and unparalleled drought.
Credit: Joshua Woroneic, Unsplash
The future truly is in our hands now.
As an individual, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help mitigate global warming. Here are a few things:
Breathe easy, hope is not lost. Taking the first step towards leading a sustainable lifestyle is a step in the right direction on the footpath to a brighter and healthier future.
Caption: Every little bit counts, as long as you start acting NOW.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Read the full report here: Sixth Assessment Report (ipcc.ch)
By Georgia Carter
Big brands have overtaken the market. Many of us happily spend our time and money on products and services from global corporations without thinking about the economic and environmental impacts our consumer habits inflict.
When we purchase goods from major names that have stores across the world, we’re hampering the planet and our local economy.
The fossil fuels used for production and transportation are hazardous enough, but add in the carbon emissions that result in increased air pollution and the plastic waste from packaging, and you have a natural disaster.
However, there is a simple yet effective sustainable solution to this dangerous practice - shopping local.
Personal Benefits of Shopping Local
We’re all looking for ways to improve our lives, and what if I was to tell you that keeping your consumerism more locally-based will aid in the betterment of your life as a whole?
As mentioned before, when we shift our shopping to become more locally-based, we’re essentially letting the local vendor know what we as a community want and need, and therefore helping them stock up on our local demands. This equates to a better selection of products and services that best suits the community, instead of global demands that take the whole world into consideration.
When purchasing food and produce from a local farmer, the food is often fresher. It’s brought straight from the farm, requires less to no chemicals to both grow and store, and it’s generally more organic and thus healthier for you. These crops also tend to come at a slightly more affordable rate, saving you money and time while improving your overall wellbeing.
Simply put, buying local produce and food is the paragon for a healthier life.
Caption: Purchasing produce from a local farmers market not only benefits the environment and economy, but also aids in a healthier lifestyle as fresher, organic crops increase in demand and therefore supply.
Credit: Megan Markham, Unsplash
The Environmental Benefits of Shopping Locally
While there are numerous economical and personal benefits to shopping locally, the environmental benefits are paramount.
Below is a list of ways shopping local positively impacts the Earth:
1. Starting from the farming lands, shopping local helps fund organic farmers. These farmers generally use less pesticides, a decreased amount of electricity used for storage and refrigeration, and aid in healthy soil regeneration. This, in turn, also protects the natural insect population required to properly pollinate the crops.
2. Supporting local farmers means that less land is sold off to large developers, helping maintain and preserve the natural surroundings and wildlife that reside in these ecosystems.
3. When purchasing products from major retailers, many modes of transportation are used to supply and provide said items. The fossil fuels emitted through transport are both unnecessary and hazardous to humans and the environment as a whole. But, when you buy local, you’re helping reduce an estimated 26% of fossil fuels emitted through transportation, further conserving fuel which the world is fast running out of.
4. As a result of the immense amount of fossil fuels emitted from large companies, air pollution has become another detrimental environmental issue. However, you can help decrease air pollution by shopping local as this reduces transportation, the use of electricity for refrigeration, and the reduced use of pesticides.
5. There is limited packaging when it comes to shopping locally. Because there are no warehouses involved, nor a wide range of products to be sold, and no shipping required, there is less packaging. This further reduces fossil fuels due to those needed to create the plastic packaging, and decreases the amount of plastic pollution made from single-use packaging.
Overall, shopping locally reduces carbon emissions, plastic and air pollution, aids in healthy soil regeneration, protects insects, conserves fuel and electricity, and preserves natural land and wildlife.
Caption: Supporting local farmers cultivates healthy agricultural practices and the regeneration of land.
Credit: Marcus Winkler, Unsplash
Shopping local is the way to go when it comes to easy and effective sustainable solutions. If we can all try our best to research, learn, understand, act, and share ways to protect the environment, we’ll be the trailblazers for a healthier future on this planet.
Written by: Georgia Carter
The kitchen is one of the most important parts of a home. It’s where we spend hours leaning over the stove, waiting patiently in front of the heating oven, or peering out of the window while washing dishes.
There are many features of a kitchen that can harm the environment. But luckily, there are eco-friendly alternatives for all of these.
Here are some of the best swaps to transform your kitchen into a zero waste space:
1. Plastic Wrap: When we have leftovers, most of us just wrap it up for tomorrow. But what happens to that plastic wrap once it has served its purpose? Instead of contributing to the plastic pollution crisis, why not opt for more reusable options such as glass containers and long-lasting silicone tupperware? That way, you’ll be able to keep your food fresh while never needing to throw anything away.
2. Single Use Bottles: Ditch the store-bought bottled water or cooldrink and purchase a reusable and refillable bottle.
Caption: Opt for a reusable bottle instead of purchasing multiple single-use plastic bottles.
Credit: Bluewater globe, Unsplash
3. Sponges: Scrunchy, soft sponges can make cleaning the dishes easier, but they’re certainly not easy on the environment. In fact, sponges are designed to be tossed after a mere two weeks of use. Instead of creating more waste, switch to compostable or reusable dish scrubbers.
Caption: Dishwashing sponges are supposed to be thrown away every two weeks. To eliminate this waste, swap them out for compostable dish scrubbers.
Credit: Artem Makarov, Unsplash
4. Foil: Aluminium or tin foil can be hazardous to both the planet and the wildlife who call it home. Luckily, there are a few simple, nifty swaps for this item. Instead of foil, why not try beeswax paper? It’s accessible, affordable, and eco-friendly. Alternatively, foil can be recycled by scrunching it up into a tight ball - just make sure you clean it first! Learn about recycling and plastic here.
Caption: Aluminium foil is recyclable. Make sure you thoroughly wash your foil before recycling.
Credit: Teslariu Mihai, Unsplash
5. Paper Towels: While they may be easy and effective, paper towels and the waste they create is an unnecessary burden on the environment. Rather purchase some reusable and washable dish cloths that will perform the same purpose while mitigating the waste.
Caption: Purchase reusable and washable dishcloths and towels instead of paper towels.
Credit: Brain Patrick, Unsplash
6. Food Waste: Did you know that one-third of all food produced annually is thrown away, ending up in a landfill? However, there is an easy fix to this eco issue - composting! Composting is incredibly simple, effective, accessible, and affordable while remaining fun and packed with benefits. Learn how to start composting for beginners here.
Caption: Composting is one of the most effective ways to reduce food waste.
Credit: Gabriel Jimenez, Unsplash
7. Dishwashing: There are multiple disservices dishwashing does for the environment. From the products we use that often get tossed after only a few uses to the waste water we drain back into the environment, dishwashing can actually be detrimental without us even knowing. However, there are a few things we can do at home to mitigate the negative effects. Try swapping that plastic bottled dishwashing liquid for a bar of biodegradable and non-toxic soap. Opt for compostable or reusable dish scrubbers. Make sure you clean all food off your dishes before washing with water. Do not dispose of your oil down the drain - throw it in the rubbish instead. Remember to use as little water as possible. Dishwashers can prove more water efficient, but it’s important to ensure that they are packed to the brim before starting the wash.
8. Cooking: We all cook, and it can either be a joy or a chore. But when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the environment, there are a few thighs we can follow to ensure that our cooking process is as eco-friendly as possible. First, try shopping locally and purchase more organic produce. While cooking, remember to save electricity by turning the oven or stove off just before your food is ready - this saves energy while continuing to cook your food. Make more home cooked meals rather than eating out - this has myriad benefits on the planet and your own health.
9. General Cleaning: Cleaning products do anything but cleaning when it comes to the planet. Overflowing with toxic chemicals that seep back into the environment, they’re harmful, wasteful, and unnecessary. However, making your own cleaning products can be both incredibly easy and affordable. For example, you can create an effective all-purpose cleaning product by mixing together vinegar, baking soda, lemon, water, and even some orange essential oil for a fresher smell.
There are many ways to transform your kitchen into a space that embraces zero waste. While some of these hacks may take a little more time and energy, they’re all worth it in the end and support the wellbeing of the planet.
Zellgg, Kathryn. 10 Swaps for a Zero Waste Kitchen. Going Zero Waste.
Zellgg, Kathryn. Zero Waste Dishwashing. Going Zero Waste.
Zellgg, Kathryn. The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning. Going Zero Waste.
Written by: Georgia Carter
We may not spend all our time in our bathrooms, but they are certainly essential in our daily lives. However, the bathroom can actually be one of the most unsustainable areas in our households. From plastic dental floss and razors to a profusion of chemical products, this space can be extremely wasteful and toxic to the environment.
Therefore, it’s most important to clean up in the room where you do most of your cleaning, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to transform your bathroom into a zero waste space.
Caption: The bathroom may be where we clean ourselves, but it’s not always clean for the environment. We need to start inviting sustainable solutions into our bathrooms to curate a renewed zero waste space.
Credit: Phil Hearing, Unsplash
Below are the best 12 ways to curate a zero waste and sustainable bathroom:
1. Toothpaste: Starting with the smaller items, toothpaste is on the top of our list. We all use toothpaste, but some brands contain ingredients that are toxic to our waterways, not to mention the plastic waste that ends up in the landfill. Instead of purchasing toothpaste from the convenient store, peruse what else is on offer. I recommend purchasing toothpaste that comes in reusable and refillable glass jars, or getting creative and making your own by following guides you can find on the internet!
Caption: Bamboo toothbrushes are one of the most sustainable solutions to bathroom waste.
Credit: Toa Heftiba, Unsplash
3. Razor: Our shaving tools fall into the same category of the plastic toothbrush - they’re made from plastic, they’re not long-lasting, and they are disastrous to the environment. Next time you need a new razor, purchase a metal one. They last a lifetime and the material can be recycled in time. You will need to buy new blades, so be sure to research how to recycle blades in your country and follow the steps.
Caption: Dental floss may be seemingly invisible, but it’s this fact that makes it deadly. Rather opt for cotton dental floss.
Credit: Oana Cristina, Unsplash
5. Bottles: Shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, you name it - they all come in large plastic bottles. Recycling these containers is better than throwing them away, but we can do better than that. You can purchase every single one of these products in bar form! This eliminates plastic entirely and tends to last longer than gel or liquid form, as well as containing limited to no chemicals or toxins, making them healthier for both the environment and you!
Caption: Purchasing shampoo, conditioner, and face and body wash that come in bar form is one of the easiest ways to reduce bathroom waste.
Credit: Fitnish Media, Unsplash
6. Chemical Products: On that note, let’s talk about chemicals. Many ingredients found in hygiene products are toxic to the environment, and by supporting and using them, we're not only increasing demand for the items themselves but continuously emptying chemicals into our waterways. This water eventually seeps into the environment and infects wildlife, even destroying ecosystems. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that we all begin analysing the ingredients of our products and opt for more sustainable brands. Again, this is better both for the planet and for your own health and wellbeing.
7. Toilet Paper: Did you know that many toilet paper types contain microplastics? No, toilet paper isn't just paper. But some brands are making them better for the environment. Be sure to research sustainable toilet paper brands that are accessible to you and start supporting them instead.
8. Menstrual Hygiene: People with periods, this one's for you. Pads, liners, and tampons are all made up of microplastics, not to mention the hazardous and wasteful plastic packaging they all come in. Luckily, there are more and more sustainable products being introduced to the market. Before stocking up on supplies, research accessible menstrual products you can start purchasing instead, and more often than not, you’ll find that you’ll never need to purchase supplies again. These sustainable products include a reusable and washable pad and menstrual cup.
Caption: A menstrual cup is one of the best and most effective sustainable solutions when it comes to menstrual hygiene.
Credit: Oana Cristina, Unsplash
9. Washing pads: Whether you use cotton pads to wash your make-up off or apply cream, they can be extremely wasteful. Rather switch to reusable and washable make-up pads. This saves you money in the long run while protecting the environment.
10. Water: This is a well-known point but a significant one nonetheless - use less water! Take shorter showers, shallower baths, turn the tap off when washing hands, faces, or brushing teeth, and only flush when you have to. All of these actions seem small, but the impact is grand. Make it a habit and save our precious water resources!
11. Cleaning products: Bathrooms need cleaning, just like ourselves, but most cleaning products have hazardous ingredients. Instead of continuing this dangerous cycle, start purchasing non-toxic and non-chemical products. Another option is to make it yourself! There are many recipes for all natural and homemade cleaning products that are just as effective, cost-efficient, and safe for the environment - many of which contain ingredients you probably already have in the pantry.
12. Plastic Waste: As mentioned before, the bathroom is one of the most wasteful parts of our homes. If you have plastic bottles, razors, toothbrushes, and other plastic waste lying around, start recycling. Most of the plastic packaging that contains hygiene products are recyclable and widely accepted at centres.
If you’d like to learn more about recycling, read our ultimate recycling guide here.
By: Georgia Carter
Sustainability is becoming a trend - and it’s a bandwagon we can all easily hop onto. However, it’s not something to take lightly. Sustainability is not just a thought or an action. It’s a complete lifestyle change. It’s taking a little more time to be mindful, to educate ourselves, and to let go of harmful habits.
While this can be a big shift, its benefits are plentiful and guaranteed to help both you and the planet in every way.
With so much information circulating the interwebs, it can be difficult and overwhelming to find a starting point. But worry not, because we’re here to be your helping hand and guiding light in all things sustainable.
In this post, we’ll unearth the simple steps you can take today to live a more sustainable lifestyle tomorrow.
Caption: The first step to a sustainable lifestyle is shifting your mindset to one that makes decisions while considering the wellbeing of the Earth.
Credit: Edwards Howell, Unsplash
Step One: Switching to a sustainable mindset
The very first step to beginning anything starts with changing your mindset. While this seems like the easiest step, it can actually prove the most challenging to some. But if you’re here reading this, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction:the first foot forward on the path to a more sustainable future.
Start by asking yourself some questions. Why do you want to become more sustainable? What are your motivations, goals, and intentions? And finally, what would you like to achieve by implementing sustainable behaviours, actions, and habits into your daily life?
Once you’ve determined the ‘why’, the ‘how’ can almost effortlessly fall into place. It acts as the foundation, the motivation, and fuels the commitment.
Step Two: Analyse your waste
This is a big one. This is the part where you can actually see the waste of your consumer habits. This can be shocking, but it’s the shock factor that encourages and spurs action that turns into long-lasting efforts, effects, and differences.
Look around your house and observe your habits. Do you often purchase single-use plastic products, such as chocolate or coffee, and throw away the plastic and trash after using the product? How much plastic is in your bin at the end of the week? And what, out of all your waste, do you really need? What can you do without in the future?
Don’t feel guilty about anything you find. Detach emotions and simply observe. You’re not a bad person for purchasing anything, especially because the push towards buying things and consistently consuming is ingrained in us from an early age. But because you’re already making moves to change your ways, you’re on your way to a brighter, healthier future and planet.
Making a list of common waste items can help tremendously when it comes to reducing, as well as upcycling and avoiding certain items altogether.
Step Three: Find Alternatives
As I mentioned before, sustainability is becoming a trend. The significance of this is that more and more sustainable products are being released.
Take your list of waste and see if you can find a more sustainable alternative for some or most of those items. For example, I used to purchase any kind of shampoo and throw the bottle away once I’ve used up the product. Now, I only purchase shampoo bars that come in sustainable packaging from a recognised, local sustainability brand. Not only is it more affordable, but it’s better for my hair, our water systems, and the planet as a whole.
There are many such alternative options available out there. A quick search online could be the only thing you need to undertake to start making effective alternative product swaps.
Caption: One way to become more sustainable is to find alternative, more eco-friendly products to swap with your everyday items such as shampoo and conditioner. With sustainability becoming a trend, many more products designed with the environment in mind are making their way to the shelves.
Credit: Svitlana VF, Unsplash
Step Four: Upcycle
Once a week, or every two weeks, have a look at your waste items and see which materials you can turn into something else. A glass bottle can make for an elegant candle holder, and that empty tin can be a rustic plant pot.
This is your chance to get creative and even save some money while mitigating harm on the planet.
If you’d like to gain more inspiration and read more examples of repurposing common waste items, click here.
Caption: Upcycling is one of the best ways to become more
Caption: Upcycling is one of the best ways to become more sustainable. Turn your empty milk carton into a plant pot or change your old toothbrush into a shoe shiner!
Credit: Noah Eleazar, Unsplash
Step Five: Avoidance
Take another peek at your waste. What don’t you need and what can you stop consuming altogether?
I’m a coffee addict, and I used to purchase many coffees from my local cafe. But coffee-on-the-go means take-away cups and more plastic than meets the eye. Now, I either avoid buying coffee altogether and make my own at home, or take my reusable cup with me.
Some items are better avoided altogether to help decrease the supply and demand cycle and, eventually, helping stop the production of that item or use of that harmful material altogether.
Step Six: More Motivation
At this stage, many people can struggle with motivation. Are my efforts even doing anything? Am I wasting time and energy trying to be sustainable when others couldn’t care less and continue with unhealthy habits?
No matter what we do, we will always have doubts. It’s part of being human. But there are two sides to every coin and the beauty of the mind is that you can control it. What you think, you become. So, take a deep breath and remind yourself of the larger ‘why’ behind your choices.
Another action you can take is making a note of how much money you used to spend vs how much money you’re spending while consuming less. More often than not, you’ll find that you’re saving quite a bit - and that can be a huge motivational push.
Step Seven: Shop local and travel less
There are numerous benefits to shopping locally. It aids in the growth of the community, country economy, and gives the environment a chance to breathe easy.
Often, when you begin purchasing from local stores and sticking to local service, the harmful effects of transportation decrease. Not only will products have to be shipped and driven over large distances, but you yourself won’t have to travel far to collect your item.
And why stop there? Why not try to travel less, or switch to alternative modes of transport when you can? Maybe you’ve started working from home and need something from the shop. See if you can walk there, or even cycle. If you need to make a transmute into the city, try taking the bus or carpool with friends and family. Every little bit helps.
If you’d like to learn more about why shopping locally is more sustainable, click here .
Caption: Shopping locally is more sustainable for the planet than you can imagine, while travelling less or changing your mode of transportation from time to time gives the environment a chance to breathe easy.
Credit: Cherie Birkner, Unsplash
Step Eight: Make you own
Here's another incentive to connect to your creative side - see what you can make at home!
This can be anything from organic cleaning products and self hygiene items. For example, I use my coffee grounds to make a body scrub instead of buying an already-made product from the store. You can also make your own natural deodorant using some shea butter, bicarbonate of soda, and essential oils of your choice!
Step Nine: Purchase durable products
We often buy what's most convenient to us. A pack of five disposable razors? That’s easy, right? Well, it’s certainly not easy on the planet.
Instead of having to re-purchase certain items, we can shift our consumer habits and buy more sustainable products. A reusable razor, a metal straw, and a bamboo toothbrush not only last longer, some lasting lifetimes, but are also biodegradable when the time comes to dispose of them. And often, these products can be reused and repurposed once they’re outlived their original purposes.
Caption: Durable products, such as a metal razor or shaver, are incredibly beneficial to the environment. Instead of purchasing numerous plastic, few-time-use razors, opt for a more sustainable one that will last a lifetime.
Credit: Sandi Benedicta, Unsplash
Step Ten: Slowly start upgrading home items
Common household objects, such as taps and lightbulbs, harm the environment in numerous ways. However, in today’s day and age, we still require them to function. So why not make the shift to sustainability when it comes to your home?
Start changing your light bulbs to LED energy-saving bulbs, change your toilet flusher to a water-saving one, and/or purchase a compost bin instead of throwing your food items in the bin.
While some of these changes can prove expensive, they actually save you money in the long-run - not to mention the planet as a whole too!
Step Eleven: Introduce composting and recycling into your daily life
Composting and recycling can be strenuous, depending how neurotic you get, but the benefits are paramount, to both you and the Earth.
Composting is the sustainable disposal of organic waste. Fruit, vegetables, cardboard, coffee grind, and many more items such as these can be tossed into your compost heap. This dramatically decreases the amount of trash and rubbish you throw away, further increasing space in landfills and helping mitigate the emission of harmful methane into the atmosphere. It’s easy to start, super effective, and the end product is a nutrient dense concoction you can use as fertilizer to help your flora flourish!
Recycling is the act of stripping and remoulding plastic into reusable material. Due to the many types of plastics out there, this can be an easy or difficult process. There are therefore a few things you absolutely must do to ensure your plastic is being recycled properly. While this requires effort, it’s unbelievably beneficial to the environment and definitely worth doing
If you’d like to learn more about recycling, read our Ultimate Guide to Plastic and Recycling here, and if you’d like to dig deeper into composting read our Ultimate Guide to Composting here.
Caption: Composting and recycling aren’t only extremely beneficial for the environment, but also for us at home.
Credit: Sigmund, Unsplash
Step Twelve: Start repairing instead of replacing
This step can be challenging as many of us find it tedious to spend money replacing items instead of buying brand new. However, it’s one of the most effective tips.
Are those shoes starting to break at the sole? Are those pants ripping at the seams? Don’t toss them out and re-purchase - just get them repaired! This will not only aid in the upliftment of the local community and help a family, but will also help you save money, give that item another lease on life, and benefit the planet in the long run. It’s a win-win-win situation!
Caption: Download and save these graphics for a smooth and effortless transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.
Credit: Georgia Carter, Ecofoote.
Now that you have some steps to help you guide the way, we wish you luck in starting your new sustainable life and commemorate you on your decision. Everyone, from the animals, plants, planet, and people will thank you for your commitment.
It starts with you, and it starts now. Take control of your actions and reap the rewards in the form of a brighter future and healthier home planet that will continue to provide in abundance for generations to come.
By Georgia Carter
Water forms the basis for all life. Every single living organism requires it to exist. But it’s not just to replenish and nourish ourselves. Water performs myriad other benefits that are necessary for our existence today.
Caption: Water is essential to all life on Earth.
However, we’re wrecking our water. Currently, we have less than 1% of our fresh water reserves available, and our resource is fast becoming finite. Pollution, agricultural run-offs, wastewater, and an increase in infrastructure is ruining our precious, vital liquid material.
Source: The Conversation
But to be able to first mitigate the harm caused to our waters and the beings who both use it and inhabit it, we need to understand how our water systems actually work.
How global water systems work
Water networks have been around for millenia, with the earliest known form of controlling water flow dating back to 2500 BC in China. But the most famous water systems in the world are still those constructed and utilised in 312 BE by the Roman Empire, some of which are still in use today.
Caption: One of the aqueducts constructed in the Ancient Roman era.
Today, there are four stages to our waterways: Collection; Treatment; Storage; Distribution.
Collection: We receive most of our drinking and amenity water from groundwater, water entombed just below the Earth’s surface. To retrieve this water, specialised pumps charged by fossil fuels are needed which causes multiple harms on the environment.
Another form of water we use is surface water, such as rivers and lakes. While these are seemingly everflowing, we cannot solely rely on them. Humans have therefore created their own versions in the form of man made dams, reservoirs, and artificial lakes.
However, these human-made facilities can be destructive to the surrounding ecosystems due to deforestation to make space, reverting the flow of water which was once a home to a diversity of life, and pollution from humans who work in the area.
We still need to seek out sustainable solutions for collecting water.
Treatment: Natural water often contains materials that can be harmful for human consumption. These include dust and soil particles, microbes, and decaying matter. While there are various different forms of treatment, two are the most prominent.
Distribution: It’s a silent miracle that humans have crafted a way to deliver water all across the world. Each city, town, and living space has a network of waterways locked beneath the ground.
Pipelines snake through the depths of our homes, providing us with seemingly endless liquid to use as we please. Water travels through these pipelines with the help of pumps to power movement, transferring water from storage tanks to home taps.
Caption: Our water is pumped to our homes via a network of pipelines entombed below the ground.
Credit: Denny Muller, Unsplash
But this method, while remaining efficient and effective, can be damaging to the environment. The materials required to produce the piping rely on fossil fuels for their creation, the pumps needed to forcefully move the water depend on electricity and heavy machinery, and space is necessary to install the pipes themselves.
While there may not be viable sustainable solutions to tackle these problems at the moment, it’s important for us to appreciate the water we receive in our homes every single day, and even more vital to protect the source.
How do humans pollute water?
An estimated 80% of our waste water, water polluted with chemicals, toxins, and human waste, is dumped back into the environment. Unclean and unsafe water is killing us all - wild and marine, plant, and human life. In fact, in 2015, it’s believed that around 1.8 million people passed away due to contaminated water consumption.
Not only are we destroying our health and the wellbeing of other living organisms, but also entire ecosystems. Today, nearly half of the United States of America’s rivers and streams have been harvested, and one third of all lakes have rapidly decreased in size and water quantity as well as being too polluted for humans to even swim in.
Below are a few ways we pollute our invaluable water:
Caption: Agricultural practices are one of the leading water pollutants.
Credit: Ibadah Mimpi, Unsplash
There is a chain effect that occurs in the natural world, and by harming one of the significant cogs in the wheel of life harms them all.
For example, if new materials such as microplastics are introduced into an ecosystem, suffocation occurs. This is when algae consumes the new material and grows exponentially. Algae stores require large amounts of oxygen and receive their quantities from the water, lessening the total oxygen in the water for other species, who can then drown. This leads to the loss of food for more predator species, who also perish due to starvation. Soon, the entire body of water will hold little to no life.
Sustainable ways to meet the growing demand of water
We pollute our waterways at almost every stage of the system. While we can all do our part at home to protect and keep our water clean for its return to the Earth, we need to start thinking about sustainable solutions for the root of the process.
Rainwater collection is among the most eco-friendly ways to collect water. It’s both inexpensive and accessible, and helps communities manage their own water and therefore livelihoods. However, collecting rainwater can take an extended amount of time and is not always available.
Another method is to divert surface water, leading it rather into the ground to prevent evaporation. This also improves the overall quality of the water.
Finally, desalination is fast becoming a sustainable method. The process of transforming salty sea water into clean, drinking water is useful as it supplies an abundance of water, but still relies on fossil fuels to power. Hopefully in the future, we will be able to utilise this process in a more sustainable way.
Water is the very essence of life, and it powers most of what we do on a daily basis. We need to protect this precious life giving force - and we need to begin today.
Caption: A cascading oasis in South Africa. Less than 1% of the globe's water sources are fresh and fit for human consumption.
Credit: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
By Georgia Carter
The concrete jungle is where most of us dwell. In the confines of cities, between the margins of towering buildings and congested streets, many of us find ourselves exploring the man-made and inorganic realms of life.
Over half of the world’s human population lives in cities. While society deems this a normality, it’s almost against our natural ways to be so disconnected from the natural environments that surround us.
Caption: Over half of the entire globe’s human population inhabits cities.
Connecting, immersing, and simply being around nature has myriad benefits. From physical and health aspects to mental and spiritual impacts, nature not only nurtures us but helps us thrive.
In fact, nature is ESSENTIAL to our existence.
The basic and bare necessities we require to simply survive all come from nature. We retrieve food from the Earth, water from the streams, and oxygen from the trees. Without these three vital components, life would not exist. Nature curates the trifecta of survival.
Caption: The Earth provides us with a seemingly unlimited supply of food and soil from which we can grow our own.
Source: Tania Malrechauf, Unsplash
Nature forms the foundation of our society. Agriculture, consumerism, materials, energy - everything we need for our machine of societal existence to continue turning its cogs heavily relies on the natural environments surrounding us and what these verdant landscapes provide in abundance.
We need soil to grow our crops, we need bees to pollinate plants and create a haven of diversity, and we need water to nourish not only the land but our very cells that craft the essence of our physical being.
Caption: A bee seeks hungrily for some sweet nectar. Bees are among the world’s most significant pollinators.
Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
Venturing into nature, whether on an extended hike, taking a day trip to the park, or simply rooting your feet into your garden ground, is vital in creating a healthier lifestyle.
In young children, nature is another parent. It teaches without words, revives and encourages curiosity, and embraces each and every unique quality found within oneself. Children who spend time in nature tend to experience a healthier development, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and mentally.
Caption: The developmental growth of children is accelerated when they spend time outdoors, connecting with and learning from nature.
Source: Crema Joe, Unsplash
In terms of the chemical impacts nature has on our bodies, the benefits are paramount. Nature improves all five senses, reduces blood pressure, eases the pains of long-term illnesses, and improves one’s memory span. A connection to the Earth and spending time outdoors vastly improves one’s quality of life, provides cleaner air, reduces obesity, and alleviates mental fatigue.
While physical health allows us to flourish in the physical realm, mental health is just as important in helping us shine throughout our human experience. And, of course, nature bolsters our mental health in a number of ways too.
Wandering in a forest or taking a leisurely stroll on the beach reduces stress levels and invites peace, calm, clarity, and tranquility. Nature acts as a vehicle of inspiration, further influencing our actions, behaviour, and cognitive pathways for the better.
Caption: Wandering through the woods helps alleviate stress and improves mental health.
Source: Lukasz Szmigiel, Unsplash
In fact, nature is the greatest motivator, helping sculpt cultures, identities, and ways of being. It increases productivity, acts as a muse for all art forms, and connects people to the essence of their existence.
Nature has a profound effect on one’s mental state - so much so that hospital patients who have a view of nature heal 30% faster than those who don’t. Simply witnessing nature first hand has exponential positive effects on one’s mental disposition, paving the paths of success in every field of life.
Belonging - that is what a connection with nature is all about. We are all from the Earth, we all call this planet our sole home and lifegiver. We are actually just the universe experiencing itself. And since we are all one, all connected on the most basic of levels and existence, we feel right at home when we’re in the welcoming grasp of nature.
A connection with nature is a reconnection with our core. When immersing ourselves into a natural environment, we invite the intention of not only going within, but zooming out. We’re able to reflect on our lives and life as a whole, just like peering into a river and seeing not only our reflections, but what lies beneath the surface - a powerful force of something unknown but innate.
We as humans are constantly searching for the answers to questions we might not even be able to formulate. What are we doing here? What is reality? What is my purpose? While we don’t have these answers, and while we may never retrieve them, nature is the unspoken truth, the starting and ending point, the cycle of life incarnate.
However, nature is free and we, therefore, overexploit it. It gives to us because we are nature’s children - an extension of itself. It’s time we learned to appreciate it and help it thrive alongside our human evolution and progress.
Caption: Spending quality time in and exploring nature helps develop a healthy relationship to the world and existence itself.
Source: Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
The lungs of the Earth.
So poignant as a virus that causes humans to experience deathly shortness of breath sweeps the world. Yet, as I write this at 10:30am, a deforestation counter shows that over 33 000 hectares of forest have been cut or burned across the world today.
Forests are incredibly important to preserve as a means to slow climate change, for many more reasons than air quality. Preserving forests tackles climate change, global warming, the biodiversity crisis, desertification and drought, air and water pollution.
Trees ‘breathe’ out the oxygen that we breathe in, providing much of the oxygen that most organisms on Earth need for survival. They also improve the quality of the air by absorbing polluting gases through their leaves. A 2010 estimate stated that trees and forests removed 17.4 million tonnes of air pollution in the United States – monetising the human health effects to be worth $6.8bn. Besides reducing pollution, forests and urban trees also balance air temperature – cooling cities and reducing the need for fossil fuel powered temperature-control devices and improving day-to-day quality of life for humans, animals and insects.
Effortless Earth guardians: trees absorb the all-important Carbon Dioxide simply by breathing; they are the second-largest carbon stores on Earth, after the oceans. Trees store this carbon in their trunks as a structural component and when they die and rot, it becomes new soil. Beautiful carbon sequestration. A quarter of a trillion tonnes of carbon is stored in the biomass of the world’s tropical forests alone. Cutting and burning of these forests releases large amounts of carbon back into the air, exasperating the greenhouse effect that is causing Earth to warm at an alarming rate - with the clearing of tropical forests contributing about 20% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
It is well known that forests create rain locally through evaporation and transpiration but, a Russian physicist has claimed that forests also create rain in areas far from where they are situated as well as creating the wind that carries the rain clouds. The theory states that coastal forests create wind that pulls moisture off the ocean, adding it to their own evaporation clouds and sending it to form rain inland. Therefore, the loss of these forests would cut off inland water supply – creating and spreading deserts. “Forests are complex self-sustaining rainmaking systems, and the major driver of atmospheric circulation on Earth,” Anastassia Makarieva says. Atmospheric jets or ‘flying rivers’ send water from huge forests like the Amazon, to inland areas - where they are stopped by mountains and fall as life-giving rain. The Amazon flying river is thought to carry as much water as the more visible, terrestrial river below it.
Yet, 11,088 sq km of Amazon rainforest were destroyed from August 2019 to July 2020.
Besides controlling weather across the globe, forests also stabilise land masses – preventing erosion, they filter water and slow it down – preventing flooding, indigenous and old-growth forests stop fires and slow down winds close to the land, whilst providing important habitat, food and medicine for people, animals, insects, fungi and smaller plants.
80% of Earth’s land-based biodiversity is housed in forests, as well as the 60 million indigenous people that call them home. Deforestation is seen as one of the main reasons for us entering the Sixth Mass Extinction, and we may be reaching a ‘tipping point’ where forests begin to decline on their own due to the sheer mass of human-led destruction that has already occurred.
Forests are incredibly important for a myriad of reasons and it is up to each of us to protect them. As the animal agriculture industry (particularly cattle and soy to feed cattle) is one of the leading contributors to deforestation, a huge step towards slowing deforestation would be for each consumer to switch to a plant-based diet. Other actions including: choosing sustainable palm oil, ensuring that you can trace the origins of everything you buy – especially coffee, chocolate and wood products – buying local, planting trees in our own spaces and volunteering for tree planting organisations, choosing to use platforms (like Ecosia) and support companies that care about forests and are active, challenging destructive companies and government policies.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax
Written By: Kelly Steenhuisen