There are two ways we can talk about this. Large scale. Small scale. Both are important. Small scale, I want to encourage you all to take personal steps to lower carbon emissions, sustain our natural resources, and improve air quality. While I say small scale, if we all take them, we can together protect the environment for today and the future.
While this article is touching on more of the small actions you can take, I thought it important to touch on the larger “less is more” ideas with two of my favorite topics: food and fashion. And also some small scale solutions you can do with them.
Fast Fashion: Currently, the fast fashion industry uses cheap labor overseas for their mass production. While this may lead to affordable prices for consumers, “fast fashion comes with a price tag with a handful of consequences”(Le, 2020). According to Princeton Student Climate Initiative, the industry uses 10% of all water used industrially and is responsible for about 20% of all wastewater in the world, which often reenters oceans as a toxic substance. More than 1/3 of micro plastics, which pose detrimental effects to our oceans and inversely us, are from the synthetic materials in clothing made of plastic microfibers. These plastics release more carbon than cotton, break down slower, and result in unremovable toxic waste in our ocean that ends up back in the food chain. With around 62 million tons of clothing consumed globally each year, 57% of discarded clothing ends up in landfills. This creates many public health and environmental problems because toxic substances and/or poisonous gases are released when burning landfill (Le, 2020).
Alternatives to Viscose: Viscose is are cheaper alternative to cotton but has many harmful effects on the environment. While there is an issue of sustainability and wear of new alternatives, by sourcing cellulosic from other things, we can make a huge change
Mindful purchasing: Start by looking into the companies you’re buying from, and try to source clothes from more sustainable companies. More importantly, buy less clothes in general, and make more out of the clothes you already have!
Food Industries: “Our food system — including changes in land use linked to agriculture — is currently responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change”(Greenpeace, 2019). Leading the pact is Beef Production which releases 2.5 times next-in-line’s lamb production (Ritchie & Roser, 2020). If nothing is done to fix this, food emissions in 2050 will make up half the emissions from human activities. Currently, the meat and dairy productions are large contributors of deforestation, dead ocean zones, and degradation of freshwater bodies.
Reducing meat and dairy: We can urge governments to end policies that support meat and dairy industries, and aid farmers in shifting towards ecological farming. To look more into this, head to https://www.greenpeace.org/international/
Buying for local vendors: Head out to your local farms instead of relying on industrialized meats and dairy and shipped-in produce. This not only helps the environment by reducing the carbon footprint, but is more delicious too!!
Small Scale Actions for YOU
While these actions may seem small and pointless, making little difference if you do them or not, these simple actions can result in large change.
- Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.
- Reduce the amount of clothes you buy. Buy clothes from thrift stores. Look into different programs like Patagonia’s Worn-wear Exchange or Marine Layer’s Re-Spun.
- Eat more organic foods. Since they are more expensive, you will subsequently buy less, which can be vital in not over-buying food only to throw away when it gets bad. This however is not attainable for some people and some areas.
- Walk, bike, and use public transit. The less you use your car, the more you will help the environment, and you can get in some exercise and/or get to know your area’s public transit better!
- Most importantly, consume less. Less is truly more when you begin to think about your purchases and how necessary they are. Clothing…food…technology….the list goes on.
Greenpeace. (2019, October 15). Greenpeace. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/15093/less-is-more/Le, N. (2020, July 20).
The Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment. Princeton Student Climate Initiative; Princeton University. https://psci.princeton.edu/tips/2020/7/20/the-impact-of-fast-fashion-on-the-environment
Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2020, January). Environmental impacts of food production. Our World in Data; Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food