Regardless of all the “alternative facts,” we can’t deny that climate change is upon us. Summers are literally hotter than ever, certain crops are on the verge of extinction, and typhoons have become all but unstoppable.
Perhaps what is even more terrifying is that we have a very short time frame to turn things around. Ex-President Obama did say once that we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, yet we could also be the last one to do anything about it.
Hence, a renewed consciousness about our environmental impact has emerged. Many of us now try to make small changes to reduce waste, and that’s great, really.
But while we would all like to do Greta Thunberg proud, not all seemingly sustainable choices are as eco-friendly as they seem. The following, for instance, can potentially do more harm than good:
- “Biodegradable” baby/make-up wipes.
- Cotton shopping bags.
- Crushing beer or soda cans prior to recycling.
Cloth wipes can be very convenient, but even the “green” ones are horrible for the environment.
A team of researchers discovered that a good number of “flushable” ones actually didn’t dissolve or disperse safely through the sewage system. This would not only cause blockages in household plumbing, but the synthetic fibers in them could also disrupt waterways and wildlife.
Try this instead: Go for a reusable cloth wipe. Alternatively, just use your hands and some good ol’ soap and water.
Single-use plastics are the devil, if the growing movement to ban them is anything to go by. So, that means reusable bags are better for the environment, right?
Well, the answer isn’t quite as straightforward.
While plastic bags and their ilk can and do choke the life out of our oceans, among other things, producing cotton bags require more resources to produce and distribute. In a nutshell, cotton and canvas bags have a bigger carbon footprint than their plastic counterparts.
To offset such an impact, you would have to use your cotton or canvas shopping bag at least 606 times.
Try this instead: Switch to brown paper bags for dry, light items. Reuse your flimsy plastic bags until they wear out.
Seriously? Doesn’t compressing aluminum cans allow you to pack more into your recycling bin?
Sure, but most sorting facilities automatically categorize items by shape and size. Unfortunately, this sort of automation often wrongly identifies crushed cans as paper, which leads to them getting thrown out.
Now, why is this such a big deal? Well, aluminum cans have a large carbon footprint. The mining and refining processes create toxic by-products and use up a lot of electricity. Thus, the longer the cans are repurposed, the larger the offset.
Try this instead: Just don’t crush your beer or soda cans.
Ride-sharing and carpooling remove the need for several people to be on the road at any given time. So, that should lessen carbon emissions, right?
Wrong. The trouble with on-demand ride-sharing is that vehicles on the platform still cruise around while they wait for their next passenger. As a result, these “deadhead kilometers” have led to increased emissions, which isn’t good for our ozone layer at all.
Try this instead: Be more responsible about using ride-sharing services. Book the carpooling option whenever possible to maximize passengers. Proceed to the pick-up point as soon as the driver is a few minutes away, and don’t make him/her wait for too long with the engine running.
We all want to do our part for the environment. We only have one planet, after all.
However, with all the fake news going around, let’s all be more discerning in our quest to save Earth. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and none of us would like to end up in a fiery pit of suffering, literally and figuratively.