New Year Resolutions
Many see the beginning of the New Year as a time to make a commitment to improving their lives through New Year’s Resolutions. Quit smoking, lose weight, get more exercise, read more, reduce my carbon footprint, the list goes on.
For some unfortunately the resolutions are broken within a few days of the New Year!
They give up, feel they have failed. And must wait until the next year to make changes in their lives with new resolutions.
We are here to tell you that is simply not true! You can take control of your life every minute you are breathing. You really are that powerful.
This month we are focusing on Environmental Impact of Consumerism and the Blue Economy. We encourage you to make conscious choices every day. While reducing your carbon footprint is important, so is reducing your personal consumption habits.
Tsunamis and Sandcastles
Imagine you are enjoying a day at the beach building sandcastles. You look up and see a Tsunami heading for the shore. What do you do? Ignore it, assume it will miraculously stop before it reaches shore?
Unfortunately that is how most people react to climate change.
Would you continue to sit in the sand building your sandcastle?
No! You would take action, run in the opposite direction looking for the highest ground!
Environmental Impact of Consumerism
Investopedia describes consumerism as “The idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that a person’s wellbeing and happiness depend fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions.“.
Highly effective and persuasive marketing urges us to spend our money on things we do not need, or may not even want. What they do not tell you is the impact that comes from everything we buy.
A new study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that the stuff we consume — from food to knick-knacks — is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use
Waste disposal is becoming a problem worldwide, and our oceans are slowly but surely becoming a giant waste disposal pit.
It is estimated that over half of the plastic produced every year is single use – this means that it is used once, and then either thrown into landfill or finds its way into the environment.
We are targeted everywhere to buy more stuff. Buy bigger! Buy better! It will make you happy! Make you lovable! Make you beautiful!
“A person’s wellbeing and happiness DOES NOT depend fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions!”
Continuing our obsession with buying more stuff, especially environmental damaging products, is like sitting on the beach building your sandcastle and ignoring the tsunami in hopes it will just go away.
Whatever your New Year’s Resolutions were, and whether you have been successful so far, consider making it a goal of 2022 to reduce spending your money on items that are REALLY not needed. (Here is an idea, use that money to make a contribution to any of the groups that are working on solutions to solving our climate crisis.)
You have the power
Take a hard look at what you are purchasing, do you really need it to make you happy? What resources were used up in the production of this product?
Woody Harrelson’s message is clear: As a consumer you have the power to change how and what is produced for your consumption through your purchases. If people stop buying environmentally damaging products, the manufacturer will need to make changes if he wants to stay in business.
Our purchasing habits are based on our personal lifestyle choices. Everything we buy has made an impact on our environment, from the manufacturing process, packaging, transportation, until it reaches our hands.
Even the most mundane things we buy for everyday living may be bad for the environment, either due to how it was made, or what it will do to the environment. Both are equally important.
Packaged Water Bottles – If you live in an area that has safe drinking water, stop buying bottled water! If your water does not taste as good as bottled water, buy a filter system for your tap water. Invest in a water bottle that has its own filter system you can carry with you and refill from any tap when you are out and about. This small step will save you money and reduce the number of empty plastic water bottles that pollute our waters and landfills.
We are creatures of habit and generally buy the same brands consistently, depending on what has influenced our decision. The following general household items may be made with ingredients that are bad for the environment:
Personal Care items – Microbeads are found in some toothpaste, face scrubs, body scrubs, moisturizers and lotions, deodorants, and make-up products. Take the time to investigate your preferred brand of habit to see if it contains “Polypropylene” and “Polyethylene” those are microbeads. If not you are good to go. If those ingridients are listed, time to look for another brand.
Clothing – You may be surprised at how bad the Fashion Industry is, for example, when it comes to environmental impact.
The fast fashion trend being promoted encourages us to continually buy. Often cited as one of the top environmental offenders, fashion contributes 190,000 tons per year of ocean microplastic pollution. Every year the fashion industry uses 2.8 trillion cubic meters of water, producing 92 millions ton per year of textile waste which primarily ends up in landfills or incinerated. 85% of all textiles also ends up in landfills each year.
Next time you are tempted to buy that new fleece top, pass on it. Your money would be better spent on helping an environmental climate action group! Shop less often, don’t fall for the fast fashion trap. Recycle your clothes, consider buying from quality used clothing stores.
Laundry soap – To reduce your laundry footprint, choose phosphate-free options.
If you really care about the impacts of global warming, change your habits. Be smart, look at the big picture, and make choices that will help move us into a more environmentally aware society. If we each do our little bit it adds up to a whole lot!
4 Ways To Achieve Blue Economy Using Data
by Kat Sarmiento
There are a number of emerging concepts focused on empowering sustainable living and mitigating the damage already done to the environment. As we try to shift to green living here on land, those who live and thrive near the waters are looking to adopt a “blue economy.”
The World Bank defines a blue economy as the sustainable use of ocean resources, covering all economic activities that are related to the open seas, oceans, and coastal areas. This idea aims to foster economic growth while preserving the ocean ecosystem.
To ensure that the initiative is rolled over efficiently and effectively, here are four ways to achieve a blue economy using data:
1. Improve Weather Forecasting Systems
Meteorological agencies all around the world monitor weather systems in their respective areas of responsibility. They also work with their international partners to provide relevant data that are used for a variety of fields and industries: from travel, logistics, to environmental conservation efforts. As the earth is sometimes considered a singular living organism, what happens in one region can inadvertently affect others soon enough.
This makes weather forecasting an important facet of achieving a blue economy through data. Better weather forecasts mean better advisories, which helps fuel-efficient shipping around the world. An efficient weather routing, driven by accurate and timely data on atmospheric and marine weather, means that freighters and other marine vessels no longer have to brave storms, currents, and swells that apply pressure and increase fuel consumption. Not only could efficient weather routing save on costs and energy consumption, but also reduces risks of maritime problems. These problems, like sinking or spills, not only causes loss of lives and property, but also risks the dumping of materials on the ocean.
2. Implementing Marine Spatial Planning Programs
Marine spatial planning (MSP) refers to the process of analyzing and allocating the human resources in relation to marine areas. This usually involves policy-making on a larger scale to organize the use of ocean space and its resources. An effective MSP program involves all levels of the community to ensure that no one gets left behind; creating a mutually beneficial environment to the marine ecosystem and the community that lives near it.
This is a heavily data-driven effort since it requires a comprehensive study of both the marine ecosystem and the human community living near it. Haphazardly making decisions could potentially uproot lives and even affect other ecosystems in relation to it, such as inland flora and fauna, which could adversely affect marine life in return.
While MSP is a relatively new concept, ancient civilizations have been found to live sustainably near water for centuries before industrialization took place. Some studies are looking to derive ideas from these old ways and adopt them to the modern times.
As the United Nations Development Programme estimates more than three billion people worldwide depend on the bounty of the oceans, implementing marine spatial planning programs is a great way for empowering sustainability among these people. Effective strategies will ensure that the marine environment is taken care of, which will result in a continuous supply of resources for the people who need it for their livelihood and sustenance.
3. Adopting Sustainable Fishing Practices
In shifting to a green lifestyle, the conscious consumer starts to cut down on meat. This is in hopes of reducing the environmentally harmful meat production industry on top of their own greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatives include vegetables and fish, making fishing a rapidly-growing industry in its own right. However, current industrial fishing practices lean towards overfishing, which has a negative effect on the marine life as well as the long-term livelihoods of the fishers.
To ensure that we can safely shift to a more fish-based lifestyle, sustainable fishing practices are important. While there are a number of sustainable practices used in different parts of the world, an efficient data model can help bring these techniques to be feasibly used by large fishing industries. For example, CLS Fisheries developed a business intelligence platform to create a data model using the fishing vessels of its North American partner hauling more than 100,000 tons of tuna annually. They were able to guide captains where to go, analyze the time needed to meet their fishing quota, and help local administrators determine which locations should be closed to save them from overfishing and let the resources regenerate.
4. Innovate and Adopt Financial Instruments
Another strategy for helping the blue economy to kick off is the use of new and application-specific financial instruments. You’ve probably heard of green bonds, fixed-income financial instruments designed to support projects and initiatives that are in support of the environment.
Similarly, there is a system of government debt restructuring and buy-backs used in some places where funds are set aside specifically to help the oceans recover. These “blue bonds” can help various industries grow and recover, especially in this challenging post-pandemic time. Shipping companies adopting decarbonization initiatives, both in sailing technology and in routing, could avail of these bonds to help fund their shift into a more sustainable and environment-friendly method of plying their trade.
These financial instruments can also help tourism as well as efforts to protect marine ecosystems. Studies have shown that temporarily closing key habitat locations and creating “no-take” policies around nurseries for a couple of years allow biomass in these locations to increase two or threefold. To implement these steps effectively and consistently, significant funding is required and blue bonds can help from the government’s end.
The effective use of data can help accelerate the blue economy from the community to the national and even international scales. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability, relevant and timely data from different locations could help tailor solutions that will work efficiently for a specific environment or condition.
Change starts from the bottom up!
Grassroots groups can develop new solutions for existing problems
Nonprofit organizations run by and supported by the people have always been more effective in bringing about change.
Our December Issue focused on ways of giving that would have a positive impact on finding and implementing solutions to reduce global warming and climate change. It is a big job, no one solution will fix the problems we have created by ignoring our impact on the environment.
Learn more about the work being done around the world, and choose one to support.
GlobalGiving Climate Action is a good place to start.
Take action like the future of our planet depends on it, because it does!