April 22 was Earth day. The day when we, hopefully, took a moment to think about the Earth, how we are degrading it and what can we do to conserve it for the future generations. I hope this Earth Day we made a start in changing our habits, to become more eco friendly in our ways. Following are a few places I have observed where we can change easily for the good of the environment.
The basic mantra is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and in that order. Not the other way round. Most people used paper or plastic freely, thinking it will be recycled. First of all not everything you think is recycled, is recycled. It might end up in a large dump yard somewhere. Just because you don't see the thrash around that doesn't mean its all good. And secondly, if it does get recycled, take it account the amount of energy and resources that go into recycling. Sometimes its more costly to recycle than to make a product from new materials. Recycling paper for instance is a water and chemical intensive industry.
So the best option is too reduce. Don't buy or use what you don't need. Its good for your pocket and the environment. Or maybe buy second hand if you find something of your liking and in good condition. The next option is reuse by all means. Plastic bags can be reused a few times, cloth bags a hundred times! Don't use disposable crockery and dishes. Just a little cleaning up after wont hurt anyone.
Say no to bottled water. Have a look at this video. I never understood the need for bottled water. Tap water is safe almost everywhere in the US and in most places in India. So don't forget to fill a bottle at home before you step out.
Avoid using hot water to wash dishes. Just because hot water is easily accessible doesn't mean you have to use it all the time. Make cold water your first choice. It does the job just fine. Same goes with washing your clothes. And avoid using the drier is possible.
Unplug your devices at night. I make sure I unplug my laptop and my cell phone charger every night. Vampire power is the most easily avoided waste of energy.
Bike or walk. Minneapolis is one of the most bike friendly cities in the US. Bike lanes all over and pleasant weather (don't say the winters are cold, I biked through the winter) make biking an attractive option. I biked around in Bangalore too. Give it a shot. You might actually like it.
Take the stairs. The most efficient elevator is the one not in use. Most of you are young and run for miles and burn tons of calories in the gym. Remember the gym is not the only place to burn calories.
Print on both sides of the paper and write on both sides as well. It will make your notes and assignments lighter, compact and eco-friendly.
Switch off the lights. Just because you use CFL lighting that doesn't mean you must keep them on all the time. Don't think that less waste is no waste. Increase the thermostat temperature setting in summer and decrease it in the winter. Your room need not be a sauna in winter and a freezer in summer.
Reduce non vegetarian food consumption. The connection between non vegetarian food and carbon emissions is still highly debated. But the pollution caused by animal farming is clear to see. Animal farming pollutes water and is highly water intensive. Nat Geo Magazine this month reported that it takes 1857 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef while it takes 31 gallons of water for a pound of potatoes. And most of this water comes by destroying the nearest river. And there is the use of fertilizers to grow crops to feed animals. Can farming get anymore inefficient? Salmon farming in Chile is destroying pristine coastlines. Just because you are dirtying your neighbors backyard that doesn't mean you must enjoy the bliss that comes from being ignorant. In that sense I am happy nature is speaking through global warming. Now the repercussions of destroying nature have come knocking at everyone's door.
If you haven't noticed, most of the above step don't take too much time and are not a major hassle. You just have to try to make it a habit. Don't forget, even if your are not the eco-conscious person, these practices save money! I am sure all of us are money conscious if not eco-conscious.
And this post was not about global warming. I know many people think global warming isn't for real. But global warming is not the only environmental disaster looming ahead. The electricity that so cleanly and quietly powers almost everything we use comes mostly by burning coal. The entire process of mining, transporting and burning coal is highly polluting. You should read about mountain top removal coal mining. Why should we allow such avoidable abuses to nature? Yeah, take a moment to think of the ways we are destroying the earth. Its time man shows that he is truly intelligent and mend his ways.